LAKE PLACID — Dmitry Feld, a Ukraine native and Lake Placid resident, was riding shotgun in a 15-foot U-Haul that was heading from Lake Placid to New Jersey on Wednesday, but he wasn’t moving house — he was moving donations — more than 4,000 pounds worth — for people fighting against the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Feld started organizing a food and goods drive earlier this month to help out people fighting in the war in Ukraine. He called it Operation SPAM — a callback to the non-perishable meat popularized in World War II, symbolizing the need for non-perishable foods in Ukraine. Once Feld got the word out about the drive, Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Timothy Seymour got the Lake Placid, Keene, and Long Lake school districts and BOCES in Saranac Lake involved. Over the course of the month, boxes and boxes of donations continued rolling in.
Feld said community members from across the Tri-Lakes region pitched in, and police departments from the region also donated a total of around 40 bulletproof vests. Feld thought he ended up with somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds in donations. It’s one of the biggest donation drives Feld has seen, he said — and he’s done a lot of fundraising with Shipman Youth Center in the past.
“It’s a combined effort by everybody who’s in this area, and I want to thank them all,” Feld said.
The U-Haul’s destination on Wednesday was New Jersey, where the Ukrainian charity Baranova27 is located. Baranova27 is run by Ukrainian brothers and “Dancing with the Stars” stars Valentin and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Feld said they were happy to hear he was bringing the bulletproof vests, which are in high demand in Ukraine right now. That’s where Feld is shifting his focus to next.
Feld said he has a friend in a police department outside Kyiv, Ukraine who sent him a message saying the department could use at least 100 bulletproof vests. Feld has already reached out to some local people who gave him donations for Ukraine in the past to see if they’d be willing to help. He said he just ordered 48 pairs of tactical boots and night vision gear to send to Ukraine.
“As long as I have money (from) people that was given to me with their trust, I am going to keep supporting Ukraine ’til war is over,” Feld said. “And then I’ll go there to rebuild.”
People who want to help Feld send gear to Ukraine can contact him at email@example.com.