ASHLAND, NH – As the war rages on in Ukraine, the people of New Hampshire have sent their support and crucial humanitarian aid to Ukrainians via donations to the NH Relief for Ukraine Fund, surpassing the fundraiser’s $1 million goal.
The fund was started in May by Alex Ray, owner of The Common Man hospitality family in New Hampshire, with a commitment to match every donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $1 million. With The Common Man’s promised match, more than $2 million has been allocated to provide relief to Ukrainian refugees in Poland and those still living in war-ravaged Ukraine.
A committed group of volunteers and others joined Ray in this statewide charitable endeavor, including former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, The Common Man family, WMUR-TV, iHeart Media, Granite United Way, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and the Rotary Clubs of Plymouth, NH and Warsaw, Poland.
“We asked the people of New Hampshire for help, and their answer was overwhelming,” said Ray. “Ukrainians are headed into a brutally-cold winter in already uncertain conditions – unreliable power, limited or no heat, and unstable living conditions. Your donations are providing warmth and sustenance. You are saving lives.”
In the six months since the fundraiser began, more than 2,500 unique donors contributed more than $1.2 million through the fund’s fiscal agent, Granite United Way. Donations are securely transferred to Polish Rotary District #2331 to ensure the funds go to their intended purposes. The partnership with Polish Rotary was developed through Ray’s membership in the Rotary Club of Plymouth, NH.
Ray and members of the NH Relief for Ukraine committee visited Poland and Ukraine in May to assess the immediate needs of Ukrainian refugees and establish project goals for the fund. As donations came in, they were quickly wired to provide timely assistance for food, shelter, and other vital needs. The group returned to Poland and Ukraine in October to check on the progress of the programs that were funded.
“We met heroes who were building a network for the delivery of humanitarian aid,” said Susan Mathison, a member of the NH Relief for Ukraine committee and Plymouth, NH resident who joined Ray on both trips. “We saw thousands of people stacked bed-to-bed in refugee centers, orphanages full of children traumatized by their losses, and we met Ukrainians determined to do whatever it takes to help each other to remain, Ukrainian.”
To date, the NH Relief for Ukraine fund has assisted in the purchase and delivery of more than 700 tons of food to orphanages and refugee centers throughout Ukraine; funded a trauma counseling center for children; purchased and deployed a Bloodmobile, which supplies field hospitals throughout Ukraine; distributed hundreds of generators; is striving to provide more than 10,000 sleeping bags to give extra warmth this winter; and assisted with repairs and supplies for orphanages and centers for children with disabilities.
Ray and members of the fundraising committee are planning another visit to Ukraine in December to participate in a convoy that will deliver supplies, gifts and holiday treats to children living in orphanages across the region. Ray will dress in a traditional “Father Frost” wardrobe to bring some cheer and smiles to children facing such difficult conditions this holiday season.
Donations to NH Relief for Ukraine will be accepted until December 31 and can be made online via fiscal agent Granite United Way at www.graniteuw.org or by texting NH4UKRAINE to 41444. Checks made out to Granite United Way with NH Relief for Ukraine in the memo line can be mailed to: Granite United Way, 22 Concord St., Manchester, NH 03101. More information about the effort and a donation link can also be found at www.cman4ukraine.org .