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How a Salt Lake City nonprofit gathered $7M in medical supplies for Ukraine in just 2 days

The president of a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit sent of hundreds of pallets of medical supplies to the Eastern European country this week.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pallets of medical supplies are loaded for transport to Ukraine at Globus Relief in Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 10, 2022.

Utah resident Shaimaa Alwassiti knows what it’s like to live in a war zone.

So when she saw the news about Russia invading Ukraine, she felt compelled to act. On Tuesday, Alwassiti oversaw the delivery of around $7 million in medical resources to the people of Ukraine.

“It’s just been amazing,” she said. “Everyone’s goal is to save lives, and that’s what we do. And especially us — we have the most capacity here in the state in terms of medical resources.”

“So I gathered [all of my contacts],” she continued, “and then everybody agreed in less than 24 hours.”

About 600 pallets containing syringes, needles, gloves and other supplies were shipped within two days, she said. “We were working day and night.”

Alwassiti is the president of Globus Relief, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit that provides surplus medical supplies to people in the U.S. and abroad. The organization has existed for 25 years, and has had “huge quantities” of provisions since it started — so they’re capable of pulling together massive donations when an emergency arises, Alwassiti said.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Medical supplies are prepared for transport to Ukraine at Globus Relief in Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 10, 2022.

With help from Ukraine’s Health Minister, Alwassiti made a list of items she thought Ukrainians might need. Alwassiti was born and raised in Iraq during the Iraq War, so she knew from experience what supplies would be crucial for the country’s citizens.

“She got so emotional,” Alwassiti said of the health minister. “She was like ‘Here’s my list.’ And I’m like, it’s an impressive list of hers, but it’s massive — it’s mostly big high-end equipment stuff.”

Moving larger medical equipment into the cities would have been difficult, Alwassiti said. So she came up with her own list for the distributors to give her feedback on.

The health minister got back to her in less than an hour, Alwassiti said. “I think it was 45 minutes, just like ‘That packing list is so impressive.’”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pallets of medical supplies are loaded for transport to Ukraine at Globus Relief in Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 10, 2022.

The supplies are being delivered via a Boeing 747 that will land in Moldova and transport supplies at the border, Alwassiti said. Delivery trucks filled with pallets left Globus’ warehouse on Wednesday and Thursday headed for Chicago, where the Boeing 747 will depart.

The Ukrainian Health Minister will sign off for the supplies and help distribute them across the border when the plane arrives, Alwassiti said.

Globus was able to find the flight through a partnership she has with an LA-based charter company. The best way to help the organization is by donating cash that can pay for the flight’s fuel, or can help Globus purchase supplies specific to the situation in Ukraine, Alwassiti said.

Individuals can donate to Globus Relief through the organization’s website.

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