Сars for the Ukrainian military: The story of German volunteers
Volunteers from Germany, Michael Sylvester and Annette Ehrnsperger, bring cars for the military to Ukraine. Foreign benefactors help them raise funds
Michael and Annette combined their volunteer efforts within the framework of the Pickup4Ukraine project and came to Ukraine the other day to hand over necklaces and an SUV to defenders from the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade. Volunteers told Espreso TV channel how the decision to help Ukrainians came about, where they collect funds and what other charitable initiatives they support.
The decision to help Michael Sylvester and Annette Ehrnsperger work together in a large German IT company and introduced their joint project.
"I have been interested in this region for a long time. After the Russian invasion, I thought about what I could do to help the Ukrainian people," says Michael. He started teaching German language lessons for the Ukrainians who had come to Germany, and then he heard a podcast about how people deliver cars to Ukraine. "I decided I might as well race cars with my friends. That's how it all started."
Annette, who works as a lawyer in an IT company, accommodated Ukrainian children who left their homes because of the war. They lived at her place for several months.
"Helping a Ukrainian family was the first step towards understanding what exactly Ukrainian families are going through," she recalls. After learning about Michael's initiative, Annette joined the project without hesitation. "I am convinced that not only the existence of Ukraine is at stake, but the whole Europe, and our values in general," the volunteer believes.
Car on demand Volunteers look for cars for the Ukrainian military on the Internet through private ads, as well as at auctions, where used cars are offered at favorable prices. They study not only prices and specific requirements, but also reviews of users of such cars.
"Usually the criteria are a four-wheel-drive pickup, diesel, with a manual transmission, and it doesn't have to be new so it doesn't have overly complicated electricals that are difficult to repair," says Michael.
Recently, volunteers received a request from one of the divisions for electric bicycles for special forces. The advantage of such transport is that it is quiet, and its movement is not detected by thermal imagers. Ukrainian colleagues assistend with the purchase of such electric bicycles, and the first two of them will be handed over to special operations forces in the near future.
The van, brought by Michael and Annette to Ukraine these days, is precisely designed for the transportation of electric bicycles.
Money issue In Germany, it is not possible to raise funds for the army of another country as part of charity, so everything Pickup4Ukraine does is a private initiative.
Regarding the collection of donations, Michael claims that people in Germany are really generous and ready to support the Ukrainian military.
"We are not a charitable organization, so we organize private fundraising in several stages. We ask our friends, relatives and colleagues, and then we go further into public space, looking for people who share our values and interests," Annette says about the fundraising mechanism.
And recently they held a charity concert with the participation of 22 Ukrainian and German musicians to raise money for another car.
In a short period of time, the volunteers have already handed over four cars to the Ukrainian army, and another one is in the process of being purchased.
When asked about the number of cars they intend to transfer to Ukraine, Annette answers: "As many as needed and as many as we can send."