Amstelveen – The Ukraine fundraiser started four weeks ago, at home with two young Amstelviners, Slava and Irina. Soon more space was needed and two Participe sites came to the rescue. The action took more and more forms, and eventually a wonderful place was found at Handweg 121 (formerly Life & Garden). There are a lot of donations, but there are also a few very short hands. Anyone with a few hours to spare is more than welcome to come and help sort and sort clothes and other things. Then they go to the gift shop at Handweg 129 (old Van Diemen Sport), where the refugees can get things and clothes.
Coordinator Irina has been involved from the start. Working with Slava, she created the Openhouse.fund Foundation to collect volunteers and coordinate donations.
McCabe and share
Volunteer Caresse has been there from the start. “I entered the Ibis a few weeks ago and have not left since. I started with the Ibis and the Adagio. From the gift shop we work closely with the Maccabi volunteer organization, which takes care of refugees in the hotels together with the municipality of Amstelveen. The Participe bus runs from the hotels to Gift shop three times a week Drivers come through the insurance broker Meijers.
From the shed to the garden center
Initially, people were accepted into these hotels and now they are also full. We started there with two clothes and donations. This blew up and there were no two hotel rooms full of stuff in no time. Irina, Slava and dozens of volunteers (including refugees from hotels) also received a lot of stuff during that time and moved everything from the storage room in their living room to the Westend Community Center and then to a shed in Noorddammerweg. In a few weeks, the warehouse was already filled to the ceiling. People had to dig through 500 chests here for what they needed. Then we started lobbying for an empty retail property.
Life and Garden and Van Diemen
Fortunately, the former Life & Garden was willing to cooperate, only the building did not weather the storm completely and many of the roofing pieces were removed. Fortunately, the former Van Diemen Sports team also wanted to collaborate. The volunteer organization McCabe donated the first 12 clothes racks, and shopkeepers from Amstelveen and Elsmere came with ties. Just everything was still in the boxes and in the shed. Then someone called the moving company Topmovers on Friday afternoon and asked if they were real Topmovers and if they’d like to take a flight from Noorddammerweg to Handweg. For example, on Friday evening we were emptying all the boxes, and on Saturday morning the first refugees arrived at this location on Handweg. Everyone who could help came, friends, families… Within a couple of days, everything was moved and a real donation shop was set up.
We store the items in the dry part of Life & Garden’s greenhouse.
Here items are picked and sorted by ladies, gentlemen, boys, girls and kids. From there, the clothes sorted by clothes rack move to the former Van Diemen Sport store building. Here the refugees, who had to leave their home almost without luggage, could find something for themselves and / or their children. Unfortunately, this promotion is also being abused and passports must be checked at the door.
Caresse is a volunteer during all hours of her children’s presence at school. “I try to be here as often as possible because there is still a lot of work to be done. You also want to build something so that this structure is created.” Moreover, there are about 30 volunteers committed to running the store, coordinated by Irina, and they speak Ukrainian, Russian, Hebrew, English and Dutch.
Cycling & Hygiene Products
Caresse says a massive amount of clothing has already been donated. What we really need are used bikes and baby bike seats.
Bicycle donation is highly welcome
Hygiene products are also very welcome. The refugees arrive after 4 days on the road with nothing. So we like new underwear, deodorant, face cream, soap and sanitary towels.
Now that kids are going to school more and more, school supplies like school bags, notebooks, pens and sneakers are also welcome. And with rainy weather, we are also looking for umbrellas.
According to Karis, there is also a shipment of things going to Ukraine. So we need medicines and dressings, as well as long-life products like canned foods. At Openhouse.fund you will find the latest information on what we are missing.
Call for volunteers
Any help is welcome at this point. On site, they can certainly use volunteers who can help sort and arrange the amount of clothing during the day. “One can come to the former Life & Garden website at 121 Handweg for help.” Please register with Irina Samuelenko: 0657690400 or go, Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm.