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Virginia is for lovers -- of Ukraine

Before he was elected to Congress, Tom Perriello had worked for charities and government agencies , providing relief for the people of Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Sudan, so when the call came for help in Ukraine, he didn’t hesitate.

“We just started to put it together, calling on favors from friends, and the next thing we knew we started to move hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food and badly-need medicine into the most vulnerable parts of Ukraine.,“ he says.

“My sister Paige, who’s a pediatrician, helped gather a ton of medicine. I brought over 300-400 pounds of luggage myself, and then my nephew William Rice and his college friend and father came over with more, former Congressman L.F. Payne helped as well. Sonja Smith has been calling everyone in Charlottesville to rally almost a million dollars we’ve raised there. It’s just been a great team effort.”

Ukrainian Child
Bird of Light Ukraine
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Bird of Light delivers food and medicine to residents of war-torn Ukraine like this child.

“You know,” Perriello continues, “sometimes it takes a while for the big NGOs and the government supplies to be delivered, and this more agile , bootstraps operation has been able to fill in a bunch of gaps during that period.”

They worked from Romania, driving supplies to the border where Ukrainians were waiting.

“Frequently when you’re in a conflict zone, the hardest thing is to find the person who’s willing to take the food into the area under attack,” he reflects, but “we would typically have 15-20 volunteers deep – ready to go, not even asking to be paid. “

Perriello himself took a turn at the wheel.

“I was able to deliver to some of the frontline hospitals. This was the biggest supply they’d gotten of bandages and combat tourniquets and other things.”

The Ukrainians were grateful, and Perriello was moved by their dedication.

“One of the things Zelensky did that I had not heard about until I got there was he made the country dry. They were allowing beer but wanting to make sure that the fighters are disciplined and that there are no atrocities or bad actions.”

He says war has brought out the best in some people, in Europe and here, prompting his friends from Kiev to conclude: “Virginia is for lovers of Ukraine.”

For more information about Perriello's charity — Bird of Light Ukraine — visit this website: https://www.birdoflightukraine.org/

You'll find more of Sandy Hausman's interview with Tom Perriello here:

Perriello tells how he and his neighbors helped get another $1 million in aid to Ukraine

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.