By Alek Ivanov

I was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Before 2022, most of you probably never heard of it, even though it is the second-largest city in Ukraine, with a population of 1.5 million people.

But by this time, the whole world is aware of the horrible, unprovoked war that started when Putin ordered his army to invade Ukraine on February 24. It still shocks me to this day that something like this happened in 2022 — maybe it would happen in 1522 but not now; it feels like a history movie or an old horror film.

Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe by size, losing only to France with all its islands. While Ukraine is smaller than Texas, there are only six cities in America that are bigger than 1 million people. Kharkiv has a larger population than Philadelphia, where our current company is located.

So let’s imagine now that Philadelphia is bombed daily with tactical bombs that leave 50-60 foot deep holes in the ground. Let’s imagine that all of Old City and Independence Hall gets destroyed. Let’s imagine that 1.5 million people are left without power and kids' schools are now inside the subway station. Crazy, right? No, insane. That’s not including the thousands of civilians who have died and the more than a million who have been displaced.

For me the question was not whether to help, but how. I think what we all want to know is how you can directly affect someone’s life on the front lines.

Why did we get involved?

Not only because almost half of our staff are from Ukraine and that Philly has the second-largest Ukrainian diaspora in America. We got involved because of people like my classmate Dmytro, with whom I shared almost all of my childhood memories, and my classmate Ruslan, who is the commander of the small trench mortar battalion that protects Ukraine from Russian occupiers.

They stayed and decided to defend their country. Dmytro is a successful lawyer and Ruslan worked in IT. Dmytro organized a volunteer group called “Tech-Stack,” and we got involved right away.

So far, we have sent many parcels. Our largest shipment was about 600 pounds, containing military gear that we won at the government auction. Did you know that the U.S. army puts expiration dates on stuff like military boots? So we won a few lots of brand-new military boots that had simply expired. Another huge need is combat medical items such as tourniquets, combat gauze, burn shields, etc., and it is not cheap. One combat gauze now is almost $50, but it will 100% save a soldier's life.

I am writing this exactly for this reason. There are a lot of foundations that ask for donations. I, personally, am skeptical about many of them because you have no idea where your funds are going. Do they really reach the destination? And what impact are they making?

What we are doing is directly affecting the front lines. Everything that we send gets documented with photo and video evidence, and many times, guys from front lines send thank you videos back. One thing to say about the quality of American military gear is that it is of the highest quality — and I mean the highest.

Right now, winter gear and vehicles are in huge demand. Ukrainians are buying right-hand-drive cars from the UK, as there is almost nothing left in Europe. We will be sending a few of our pickup trucks and are preparing shipment of winter gear and sleeping bags.

So I encourage you to join us in standing with Ukraine. We have added a page on our website about our efforts in Ukraine and how you can help. You can always Venmo your donations to us; our Venmo is simply @Synergy3. For $50, you can save someone’s life.