Over the past year, members of the Alaska Sno-x Lions Club have been actively involved in providing crucial aid to Ukrainians who are facing danger and displacement due to the ongoing war. Recently, a news camera captured a remarkable sight in Chasiv Yar, near the city of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast — an aide volunteer wearing an Alaska Sno-x Lions Club arm patch. The Alaskan featured in the video was working to convince residents to move to safety, as can be seen in a German public broadcasting news report available on the YouTube link provided below.
Last April, the Alaska State Sno-x Lions Club began planning a humanitarian mission to Ukraine, aimed at providing essential assistance and transportation to the Polish border. This initiative involved moving families from the jurisdiction of the Lions Club Ukraine to the Lions Club Poland, in collaboration with the Aerial Recovery Group’s efforts to transport other evacuees to Poland. The team successfully executed their plan, providing vital aid to those in need.
Moreover, the Alaska Lions Club members played a critical role in coordinating the shipment of donated items from Alaska to both the Lions Club of Poland and the Lions Club of Ukraine, further bolstering the humanitarian efforts in the region.
Several Alaskans associated with the Alaska Sno-x Lions Club are involved in the humanitarian effort, including Dane Ferguson, Jamie Hamilton and Brody Smith, along with others from outside Alaska who are in Lions Clubs of their own hometowns.
As winter ends and the “fighting season” begins, Russia has taken over the rotating presidency of the United Nation’s Security Council, Ukraine, naturally, is furious about the move. After all, the International Criminal Court in the Hague issued an arrest warrant against Russia President Vladimir Putin last month. But the United Nations seems helpless in the face of Russia taking over the Security Council. The town of Avdiivka is suffering some of the worse of the shelling in recent days, close to where the Alaskans have been working to get people to safety.
Dane Ferguson, a snowmachine legend from Alaska who has been in the thick of it in Ukraine for the past year with the Sno-x Lions Club, wrote on Facebook an account of a day in his life of evacuating civilians:
I’d like to start by saying that I strongly dislike social media. Although I recognize it is a necessary evil if I want to bring awareness to the humanitarian side of this conflict in Ukraine.
I’ve been here in Ukraine for about a year now. The few posts that have been made, were all the sugarcoated stories. not today. As I was standing around doing vehicle security, and I was thinking to myself how exactly do I describe this “new normal” to the friends back home. So I pulled out my camera and filmed an average day in the life of the Alaska Lions Club in Ukraine. Using freestyle as an analogy. This day is just a normal backflip. Nothing special. It’s not a highlight reel. It’s just what we do. Although I am really excited to come home and spend time with my family, catch up with my friends and get back to work to earn some money. I am equally disappointed to temporarily be unable to give these folks the option to live, and a chance at a new life.
Having said that. I hope no negative backlash comes from posting this video. It seems a lot of other volunteers and soldiers post their daily actions so…. hey lets give it a try. Here you go.
Allow me to put this video into context. We make two runs into towns like this every day to get elderly, children, and wounded people. On this day, we got a request to evacuate three people from the basement. Once we arrived, the male refused to go and The females changed their minds and were deciding to stay with the man.
As we’re driving into Town and crossing the only bridge that allows a safe access back out of town, grass is on fire on both sides of the road from a white phosphorus munitions being dropped.
My three partners speak Russian and Ukrainian. So I generally stay outside keep an eye on the vehicles, and our surroundings to make sure no unwanted surprises sneak up on us. While two members of our Team were inside trying to convince the family to leave. The big building that is burning was constantly hit with artillery. While I was outside enjoying the sites and smells. The two men you see sitting on the bench. Had come wandering out of the basement of the building to escape the shelling and sat in disbelief as they told us, that was their home being shelled. Of course I had to radio for a translator to come tell me what these guys were saying. She spoke with the men and tried to convince them to evacuate. But they told her that this town is their home, and they don’t know what they would do if they left and they have always lived here. One of the team members got frustrated with a stubborn old people in the basement so he came out of the building. He was a little antsy from the shelling and you can hear him on the radio calling for the fourth member of our team, encouraging her to leave (for safety purposes we try to never stay in one place for too long. Speed is your friend) And it was at that time the grandmother had decided she would leave with us, so we could take her to safety. I did not film the drive out. Because I am the driver, (if I had filmed it. I would never post our routes or critical infrastructure on social media) but we cross back “through”/ by the flames, across the bridge and just like happens every time. The old lady was crying as she left her home and family not knowing if they see each other again. We reassured Lady that we will be back to the basement to check on her family and hopefully reunite them in the future