Area charity sending ‘Loads of Love’ to Ukraine one container at a time

·4 min read

A Chatham-based charity with deep connections to Ukraine is looking to help support people in the devastated country.

Ed Dickson, the overseas director with Loads of Love Humanitarian Aid and Mission Society, will be a speaker at the Hymn Sing Fundraiser at Grace Christian Reformed Church in Chatham on May 19.

His charitable organization, Loads of Love, is a humanitarian aid and mission society that was created in 1995 as a one-time humanitarian response to eastern Ukraine following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Loads of Love continued to grow and establish relationships across the country while routinely sending over shipping containers full of supplies and donations.

More than 25 years later, Dickson and his organization are still going strong.

“We began working in orphanages where there were children with special needs. We’ve gotten to the point where now in Ukraine, we have 40 full-time employees and doing a lot of work with people with special needs and helping families in desperate need, even with groceries,” said Dickson.

While Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Loads of Love has continued providing support to the people in the Eastern European nation.

The overseas director, who recently returned from a trip to Ukraine, said the workers his organization deals with in the church had delivered groceries to more than 30,000 families just in the last two months.

“They’ve rescued more than 5,000 people from bomb shelters in extremely dangerous war zones. They told us very directly when we were there, without what loads of love is doing right now, the funds that have come in and the assistance, we wouldn’t be able to have done any of this at all,” said Dickson.

He said Loads of Love has been extremely busy packaging and sending two containers to Ukraine via Poland.

“I want to thank our generous community in Chatham-Kent for your donations and the many volunteers at Loads of Love who volunteer their time, servicing our community and the recipients of all the containers we send every year,” said Dickson.

He said he is blown away by the way Chatham-Kent and around the country have stepped up to the plate to help those in need.

“This is the real Canada when someone’s in trouble and Canadians step up to really help,” he said.

Dickson announced via his Facebook post the combined total of the goods in the two containers was more than 70,000 pounds.

“Primarily, this was food, hospital beds, wheelchairs, medical supplies, hygiene supplies, mattresses, backpacks, bedding/blankets and teddy bears,” he said.

Dickson, who has split his time between Ukraine and Canada for 25 years, said the invasion of his country became very real when a missile struck about a kilometre from him as he was driving through Kharkiv.

“We took food to bomb shelters east of Kharkiv and evacuated 33 precious people,” he said. Together, with your help, we have evacuated over 5,000 people now from bomb shelters.”

Dickson, who recently returned from a humanitarian trip to Ukraine, will provide an up-to-date report on the situation at the fundraiser event in May.

He highlighted there are many ways to help support the people of Ukraine, even if you are unable to attend the fundraiser event.

The organization also has a thrift store and warehouse located at 127 Colborne St. in Chatham. The store receives donations from the community and distributes them to people who are in need locally and around the world in shipped containers. Dickson said the store funds its operations by selling a portion of the donations in their Thrift Store.

All members of the Thrift Store team are volunteers. Because the store covers its overhead costs, Dickson said that 100 percent of the funds go to Ukraine when someone donates money.

“As far as I know, we’re one of very few organizations in Canada that can send 100 percent of donations to the area they need,” he said.

The organization’s fundraising event will also feature musical guests The Dan Borody Band, Chuck Zuidema and Kyle Van Stryland.

The church is located at 255 Tweedsmuir Ave. W. in Chatham. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the event begins at 7 p.m.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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