A Buffalo, New York-based businesswoman is collecting bulletproof vests through her charity to help protect Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who are offering humanitarian aid.
Since Russian forces invaded Ukraine at the end of February, Lydia Dominick has been working around the clock with her charity Buffalo Gives to aid soldiers fighting in the most dangerous areas of the country, as well as citizens both inside Ukraine and those who have escaped. Dominick started the charitable effort by using her business, Buffalo Balloon Co., to collect donations for Ukrainian refugees in need.
BROOKLYN-BASED NONPROFIT DELIVERS ‘BLANKETS OF HOPE’ TO PEOPLE IN NEED
Dominick told Fox News Digital that her efforts began after she saw her friends in Europe making a difference by gathering and driving supplies to the border and taking families to safety, she said.
“I thought I can’t do anything here, I’m going to help,” she said.
She first opened the doors to her business to collect any kind of donation possible. An influx of diapers, formula, medical supplies, socks, hats, mittens, food, blankets and hygiene products came flooding in and within four days they were able to fill and ship 21 pallets to Europe.
UKRAINE WAR WIDOWS PROVIDING AID ON THE FRONT LINES
However, after listening to people on the ground in Europe, Dominick realized the need had quickly changed.
“It’s no longer diapers, it’s no longer clothing. We need bulletproof vests,” she said.
She recalled thinking: “I’m going to get those. I don’t know how, but I’m going to get those.”
The goal, she says, is to make sure every Ukrainian is protected with a vest.
She immediately went on social media to ask for help.
“We had [a] Sheriff’s office, entire police academies bringing in expired vests, “she said.
She recalled saying, “Perfect, we’ll take them. They’re fighting in T-shirts, we’ll take whatever you have.”
But her efforts didn’t stop there. With an immense drive to help, she started buying vests with her own funds too.
She also started talking to different arms dealers around the country and figured out a way to get one International Traffic in Arms Regulations license, so she could legally transport the vests to Europe.
The first donation of vests came in on March 8. Since then, she has already collected and purchased more than 500 vests.
UKRAINE’S HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS RECEIVE EMERGENCY AID FROM NONPROFIT: ‘WE LET THEM KNOW THEY’RE NOT ALONE’
The vests are personally delivered by Dominick and her team to warehouses in Warsaw, Poland, and Lviv, Ukraine, in order to get them to people in need in a timely manner.
During her first trip to Poland, Dominick checked 10 bags filled with 20 bulletproof vests, ballistic helmets, medical supplies and medication.
During her second trip, this time with added support from her family, she was able to get 62 bags filled with more than 160 vests, to Europe.
They are slated to take another couple hundred vests on their third trip this coming Monday.
NONPROFIT HELPING UKRAINIAN ORPHANS, FOSTER FAMILIES ESCAPE COUNTRY
United Airlines offered Buffalo Gives 500 pounds of free cargo weight to fly supplies to Europe from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The charity is still collecting monetary donations, which will go towards purchasing vests “and other high need items that can be purchased in Poland,” according to its website.
It is also still seeking cold and allergy medication in pill form, children’s medication and medical supplies such as trauma packs and gauze.