Local couple donate supplies to Ukraine

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Barry and Karen Holt, crisis missionaries who live in Lexington, spoke with The Star Herald about the resource crisis in Ukraine and how people in the community can make a difference.

Kosciusko native Barry Holt watched Russia’s invasion of Ukraine up close. As things progressed with the invasion, Holt didn’t hesitate and booked a March 18 flight to Vienna, Austria. At the time, his wife Karen could not accompany him, but was awaiting his return to their farm in Lexington.

When Holt arrived in Vienna, Austria, he took a car and a train to Slovakia. He and other denominational and local missionaries got to work loading resources by truck to distribute to Ukrainians.

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“It took us about six hours to get from Slovakia to the Ukrainian border,” Holt said. “After arriving at the Ukraine border, it could take three to six hours before missionaries could enter the country with supplies.”

Some supplies included flour, sugar, foam toppers, toilet paper, noodles and other necessities. Missionaries and helpers filled boxes to distribute to residents. The drivers even brought the filled supplies closer to the war zones.

“Every time one of the drivers left to go to the war zone and deliver supplies, we all took a moment and prayed together,” Holt recalled. “We just thought about everything to bring and how it was going to be handled. I mean, it was a lot of activity.

In Ukraine, Holt stayed at a ski resort with refugees and other faith helpers. There they unloaded supplies for distribution. While refueling in Slovakia, Holt received a text message that the building he was staying in had been burned down.

“We left on a Saturday evening and drove to Slovakia across the border in the middle of the night on Sunday. And on Monday night, we got a text message saying the hotel was on fire. Because of what was happening there, the humanitarian aid set it on fire.

It was not a defeat for missionaries and refugees. For three more weeks, Holt, refugees, other missionaries, and townspeople handed out as many boxes of supplies as they could.

While Holt was in Ukraine, he updated his wife Karen daily on supplies needed by the Ukrainian people.

“The mattress toppers we knew were too big for the refugees to flee and move from place to place,” said Karen Holt.

Although Karen has not gone on a mission with her husband, she is not new to finding herself in the middle of a war zone as a crisis missionary.

While Holt was laying the groundwork in Ukraine, Karen wanted to help refugees. She spent many nights in her bed praying to God that she could help the Ukrainian people. And that’s when she had her light bulb moment.

“As I was pulling up my warm blankets and praying, that’s when it hit me,” she said. “The Ukrainian people need sleeping bags.”

The next morning, she contacted different organizations to see if they could potentially help her ship these supplies and goods to Ukraine. She also asked her husband to talk to people in the field about shipping supplies.

During this time, Karen and some of her friends came up with the idea of ​​Bag Ladies – a group that allows locals to donate new or used sleeping bags, blankets, coloring books, sketchbooks, colored pencils, vitamins and tourniquets.

Most of the organizations that came back with her were already too full to take on new vendors, but it only took Barry 30 minutes to find his wife the right connection.

“I got a call from a lady in Ukraine and she gave me a phone number and told me to call this man in the United States,” Karen said.

After her conversation, she teamed up with the shipper, who also had a warehouse, to source supplies from Ukraine. That’s how the Bag Ladies started.

“Not a penny of donations comes back to us, not even for our gas or our lunch,” she said.

Barry Holt returned to Lexington on April 7 eager to help his wife distribute more supplies to Ukraine.

The Holts now have two shippers to send supplies to Ukraine, and a warehouse to put all the sleeping bags and other necessities that will then be distributed to Ukrainians.

Residents and citizens can donate in several ways. The Bag Ladies website launched on April 27 and The Bag Ladies are also on Facebook. More information on donations can be found at bagladies.love or by email or phone. They can be reached at: Barry Holt, 601-613-2288, [email protected] or Karen Holt, 601-942-3519, [email protected]

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