Volunteers in Virginia helping Ukraine Friends deliver ambulances to Ukraine

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 3:20 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG Va. (WVIR) - Dozens of volunteers are hitting the road to help the people of Ukraine. They got behind the wheel of 22 refurbished ambulances early Wednesday, March 8, to head from Harrisonburg to Baltimore.

“This is probably the most significant thing I’ve done as a volunteer in my life,” Ken Blakslee said. “I’ve done a lot of volunteering over the years, and I can’t think of a more impactful way to really save the lives of so many people who are in such dire need.”

Ukraine Friends is trying to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

“We’ve had lots of reports that the Russians have actually been targeting ambulances,” Ukraine Friends CEO Joe Sullivan said. “There just aren’t enough ambulances in Ukraine to respond to all the people in need.”

Ukraine Friends is a nonprofit founded as an emergency response to the war. So far, it has sent 90 vehicles to Ukraine.

“We started out procuring ambulances in western Europe and, quite frankly, ran out of secondhand ambulances to procure there,” Sullivan said. “We were fortunate enough to find and start sourcing them here in Virginia.”

“These ambulances last from 30 to 60 days, and they don’t break down, necessarily. I’m sure some of them do, but a lot of them are being removed from the service because of Russian artillery and drones and everything else just to destroy them,” Art Beltrone with Volunteer Ambulance Services said.

Beltrone is one of the volunteers driving to Baltimore, where these ambulance will be loaded onto ships and sent east.

“They are received by volunteers and by members of the Territorial Defense Force,” he said.

“The reality is that there are a lot of people on the ground who are in dire straits, and this is a humanitarian crisis,” Sullivan said.

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