“How can I help?” “Strong person needed over here please!” “More boxes needed!”.
Throughout the morning on Sunday 6th March, the lobby of Pinner Synagogue was full of noise and activity – people arriving every few minutes with bags of goods for Humanitarian Aid Charity, Goods for Good,to be sent by lorry to Ukraine. The relief at being able to do something useful at last was a strong bond between every volunteer, and also the post-Covid relief at being able to see and interact with others in the community, at long last.
Only a few hours previously the call had gone out to faith groups, friends and neighbours, and from everywhere the donations kept flooding in. We were asked to collect tinned and packaged food, hygiene items like shampoo and toothpaste, and first aid items. As bags arrived, the 18 volunteers grabbed them and piled assorted goods onto tables in the lobby and quickly packaged, sealed and labelled everything into boxes. A few hours later there were over 140 boxes, many black sacks of nappies and paper items, and over £400 in donations. A volunteer driver agreed to drive the truck to Goods for Good partner charity warehouse in Northampton.
From there, Goods for Good will arrange with partner charities,distribution to Polish cities like Rzeszow, Przemysl, Lublin, Pilzno and Warsaw. The boxes will arrive eventually at other distribution centres, and by agreement with Ukrainian authorities for transportation to Ukrainian hospitals in cities like Lviv and Borislav.
Goods for Good local teams have been doing this work for over 30 years and have built strong local networks through Governmental organisations, local municipalities and authorities, churches, synagogues and other groups to help get the goods distributed wherever there is need. And the last ten days of war with Russia has meant far greater urgency and volume.
Similarly, Pinner United Synagogue volunteers have been among others doing this kind of work for many years. Here was a major opportunity to step up the work and it was heartwarming to watch the operation swing into top gear.