Platform of Goodness: How Ukrainian Trinity Foundation developed from a garage to a powerful volunteer group

Текст: Юрій Марченко
Дата: 16 Березня 2023

Within the Platform of Goodness project, the editorial staff of Ukrainian Platfor.ma online magazine pay visits to worthy projects, personally help their causes, and write pieces about their experience to raise awareness of important initiatives and show people that helping others is easy. This time, we have visited the Trinity Foundation, a powerful project that seems to do everything to bring the Ukrainian victory closer: helps the military via a large-scale collection of dry rations, supports displaced persons, rescues people from dangerous places, and even takes care of animals. And here is their story.

🇺🇦 Text in Ukrainian is available here 🇺🇦

“Once we saw an elderly lady with a wheelbarrow and a bag coming towards us. We realized she wanted to ask for a social security package and said, ‘Have you come for aid?’ But she replied, ‘No, not at all, girls, where can I put the dry rations for the military?’ And then she got out 11 kits, which she herself had packed according to our list. Looked like she had just spent her whole pension for them. And in each set, she had put an icon of a guardian angel — the whole foundation was just crying when we saw all this. Now this lady comes every two weeks. She’s recently brought lard, which she had salted herself. We sent it to the front line in Bakhmut, where the military filmed a video of them eating it and thanking her, so now the lady, having watched it, cried herself.”

This is just one of the stories of the Trinity Foundation, which, after the start of the full-scale invasion, has become a powerful center for helping those in need. Their most notable project is, perhaps, the People’s Dry Ration.

Already in the first weeks of the war, one of the military units asked to help them with food that did not require deployment of a field kitchen. Trinity first collected dry rations for these soldiers, and then it turned out that many units on the front line face a similar need, and, hence, mass production was started. In the spring of 2022, the foundation packed 400–600 dry rations daily, but in summer the amount of aid decreased tenfold. Therefore, Trinity came up with the People’s Dry Ration campaign — every Saturday anyone can bring something from the list of necessary items in any quantity or simply help pack food kits for the front line.

“Instant porridges and soups, meat and fish pastes, energy drinks (because sometimes soldiers have to stay awake for three days in a row), fruit purees and sweets (for you greatly want something sweet in the trenches), nuts, protein bars, tea, coffee, and wet wipes — all this is packed in special bags,” says one of the Foundation’s volunteers, Anastasia. “Then, we send the kits to ‘point zero’ (that is, to the front line. — Platfor.ma), where it’s hard to deploy field kitchens.”

Anastasia’s speech is interrupted by a car approaching the entrance to the Foundation. A woman gets out and says: “Excuse me, we’ve brought a whole car of dry rations.” The trunk is indeed full of quick-dissolving soups, energy drinks, canned goods, and other products.

“And the most important thing,” Anastasia continues, “is that everyone can use a marker to write a wish or send a greeting on this dry ration kit.” And again, these writings make the whole Foundation cry. For example, migrants from Kherson and Mariupol constantly join in and write: “Guys, my granny’s waiting for you in Kherson, we are all waiting!”

This works in the reverse direction as well.

“Sometimes, the military open a package ‘at zero,’ and see that a child who packed it traced their hand, for they can’t write yet, but already want to help. And then the severe military write to us, ‘You’ve undergone some kind of special training in being so touching, have you? It’s not only delicious and perfectly packaged, but also incredibly hearty!’ In short, everyone’s crying in the end.”

On the first day of the People’s Dry Ration campaign, the Foundation managed to collect about 400 kits. Then they collected a record high of 800 kits, and now the number stabilized at about 400–500 kits every Saturday. For many Ukrainians, this has already turned into a kind of tradition — the Foundation’s employees say that some people come every week. In general, since July, they have managed to collect and send tens of thousands of dry rations to the defenders.

Katya the Carrier

“It all started in my garage,” says Trinity co-founder Kateryna Kovalyova. Before the start of the full-scale invasion, she owned a successful logistics company that worked both in Ukraine and abroad. “Immediately after the start of the full-scale war, I wrote that I’ve got several trucks in Europe that can be loaded with humanitarian aid and brought here. As you can remember, in the beginning, everyone wanted to help us, and the only question was who can bring and receive the aid. We started doing this, got new acquaintances, Instagram word-of-mouth worked.”

“Instagram word-of-mouth” is an innovative replacement of traditional word-of-mouth. Almost the whole country learned about Kateryna and her aid, so her phone just started to explode. Numerous people asked for help with leaving dangerous areas, and Kateryna did manage to save some, like two teachers and 46 children (who were hiding in the basement before that) from a shelter for people with Down syndrome in the Kharkiv region. All of them could be transported to a safe place.

“I suppose that hundreds of people have recorded Kateryna as “Katya the carrier” in their cell phones, as in the first weeks of the war, her logistics expertise saved many people,” the Foundation employee says.

Still, rescue from the hot spots or dry rations is far from an exhaustive list of Trinity’s activities.

For Brigades, Battalions, and for Kolya

When the private initiative of a few grew into a full-fledged foundation, the garage failed to suffice. Therefore, Trinity moved to pavilion No. 2 of the Expocenter of Ukraine, with a huge hall inside that turned into a maze of boxes. The assortment is impressive, with a wide variety of products and drinks, hygiene items, clothes, and shoes being stored there. Some of the boxes have “For the Armed Forces! Do not touch!” writing on them.

“Just not to accidentally send them to someone else,” Anastasia explains, “for we also work with internally displaced persons, helping them with clothes, shoes, hygiene items, products — every day we send about 20–30 parcels. We also take care of several animal shelters and treat sick dogs in vet clinics.”

A separate hall is allocated for medicine. Since the first month of the war, six women have been sewing first-aid kits for free, and Trinity has filled them with everything needed. Thus, about 10,000 first-aid kits have already been sent to the front.

“The filling is classy,” says Anastasia and demonstrates one of the first-aid kits, containing gloves, an Israeli bandage, a tourniquet, scissors, antibiotics, painkillers, a bandage, wound tamponade, various plasters, etc.
Of the dozen or so people working in the Foundation daily, three are medics. They are the ones who sort and distribute various medicines and equipment that Trinity receives.

Though numerous boxes with the “For the Armed Forces! Do not touch!” writing on them are stored in the general hall, there is also a separate room specifically for military needs. It contains boxes with walkie-talkies (handheld transceivers), roll mats, sleeping bags, balaclavas, and trench candles, with flags of various units on the walls and new military boots with the writing “For Kolya” on the table.

Among all this, several boxes with shampoos and shower gels are quite noticeable.

“This is also a very important thing. Actually, our US friends helped us with this. They generally get quadcopters and thermal imagers for the Armed Forces, but in between they made an arrangement with a chain of US supermarkets, and could thus bring a bunch of hygiene products as well.”

Trinity partners with both Ukrainian and large international companies. On the boxes, one can see logos or names of Halychyna, Danone, Veres, Torchyn, MHP, World Central Kitchen, Myrhorodska, Morshynska, Omron, Piel, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Procter & Gamble, Purina, Royal Canin, and many others. The general list of brands sufficed to cover the entire map of Ukraine with logos already in June 2022.

There is a touch of surrealism in the fact that all these boxes and the Trinity Foundation itself are located in pavilion No. 2 of the Expocenter of Ukraine. In winter, pavilion No. 2 is known to almost all children of Kyiv as Santa’s Residence — so items for displaced people or walkie-talkies for the Armed Forces of Ukraine are now stored in the same place where children celebrated the New Year just a year ago. The ceiling of the medical warehouse is made of thousands of glass balls, a Christmas tree rises between numerous boxes, and the name “Dream Factory” can be seen on the wall.

“We’ve got a volunteer, Anton, who takes aid to the hottest spots near Bakhmut. He said that several times he was met with the words: ‘You’re our Santa!’ to which Anton replied, ‘You should’ve seen the place where I load this all — that’s a true Santa Claus Residence!’”

This Is No Ordinary Car. Her Name Is Betsy

“It’s vital to understand that in the war, vehicles are just consumables. They can last for a month, or even a day — that’s fine,” says Anastasia. “We’ve already sent a couple dozen pickups to the military. Six of them we’ve got from Ireland — from ordinary people who very much want us to win. They themselves drew these cars from Ireland, and when giving them to our volunteers at the border, they said goodbyes and told them: ‘Just take care of this car, for this is no ordinary car, her name’s Betsy. I’ve also put a thermal mug there on the seat, it’s not new, but I washed it, so let them use it!’ That’s so moving.”

In addition, thanks to the British Fund, a dozen ambulances could be transferred to the front line, as well as large food pellets — where field kitchens can be deployed, clothes — for displaced persons and wounded soldiers in hospitals, hygienic items, products, and everything necessary — to the villages of Chernihiv and Kyiv regions, to Izium and Kupyansk, and feed and medicines — for animals in shelters. In just half a year, the Trinity Foundation has turned from a private initiative located in a garage into a truly large-scale foundation that helps everyone in need.

Personal participation is also possible, for example, through sending the necessary items by Nova Poshta or bringing them to pavilion No. 2 of the Expocenter of Ukraine, or visiting the People’s Dry Ration on Saturday.

“You not just make a donation, but come, pack the kit, sign it, and maybe later you will see a video of exactly your kit being unpacked. We’ve already had such cases — the whole Instagram joyed,” the Foundation’s employees recall.

At Trinity, they work for the victory every day, and, as the volunteers themselves say, they are not going to stop.

“I want the Foundation to continue working even after the victory,” admits Kateryna Kovalyova, “until the very moment of restoration of every piece of our land, return of every defender, the moment when we help every Ukrainian to get back on their feet. My mission was to restore Ukraine — and we’ll do that.”


Please support the Trinity Foundation. Text in Ukrainian is available here

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