Huge response from Chiswick for donations for Ukrainian refugees

Image above: collection of donations

The message went out and people responded

Chiswick residents have been organising support for Ukrainian refugees, with individuals rallying the community to organise and transport donations of essential supplies to the Polish border. Donations of medicine, flashlights, clothing, nappies, blankets, sleeping bags and other items have been collected for the refugees fleeing the invasion of their country.

On Saturday (26 February), Chiswick resident Marek Wizowski told his neighbour Margie Frew he had emptied out two vans he owned and wanted to take provisions across Europe for Ukrainian  refugees. Marek has family who live close to the border and his sister is a doctor, so they were well informed about what supplies were needed.

Margie offered her house as a drop off point for donations, sending out a text message to 20 people and asking for donations on social media. Margie’s friends spread the word through social clubs, schools and other neighbourhood groups. The message was disseminated across west London, with financial assistance for some of the donations coming from as far as the United States.

About a thousand people answered the call for donations, dropping off supplies over the course of two days, filling up eight vans and two lorries. Volunteers are now driving the vehicles to the Polish border towns of Medyka and Przemyśl and a fundraiser has been set up to fund the costs for crossing the border and for fuel.

“Spectacular” display of community spirit

Margie told The Chiswick Calendar the call for supplies just took off; people said they had heard about it on parent chat forums from Latymer School, Belmont Primary School and Ravenscourt Park.

She said:

“One mum from Belmont who’s American called her family back in the States and said we can do something here, now I need money. She got £1,500 and went to Costco on Sunday morning and bought men’s fleeces and jackets, socks, toiletries, baby food and formula, cat food and dog food.”

By 1pm on Sunday, Margie said more than enough clothes had been donated but there were too few sleeping bags, medical supplies and electrical items. Polish officials have said medicine is in short supply. Organisers started telling people to stop bringing clothes and instead to bring flashlights, batteries, medicine and sleeping bags.

“Within 30 minutes people started showing up with boxes from Robert Dyas, bags of toiletries; the message was turned on a dime. One woman turned up with 12 sleeping bags because she heard they were needed.”

At least a dozen volunteers were helping out in the house at any given time, most of them people Margie had never met before. Many asked how they could help and were happy to carry out their assigned jobs, even if all they were asked to do was to go to Sainsbury’s to buy more boxes and tape.

Margie said the community spirit on display was “spectacular”.

“People just rolled up their sleeves and tucked in.”

Marker pens at the ready

Many people who showed up took initiative and brought along permanent markers, boxes and packing tape so supplies were properly organised.

“One of the key things we were told is when you get to the site of a refugee area, you can’t just have everything mishmash. You have to know what’s medicine, what’s kids and what’s adults” said Margie.

If donations weren’t labelled or weren’t properly labelled, boxes and bags had to be opened up and separated so they could be properly repacked later.

“The kitchen was set up as a toiletry distribution area – there was a full area with toothbrushes, shampoo, hand wash, batteries, tampons, pads, Calpol, Nurofen, wet wipes.

“At one point outside of my house we had six giant boxes and at any given time there were three or four volunteers who were just separating items to fill entire boxes with one product.”

They have now finished collecting, as the vans and trucks are on the way.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Waiting for the fall of Kyiv

See also: Russian TV presenter with flat in Chiswick ‘a spy’

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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