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Aid Legion is helping rebuild a school in Hostomel, Ukraine, which was badly damaged during three weeks of Russian occupation.Handout

The organizers: Anna Goncharova, Eugene Kavaler and Dan Pantelo

The pitch: Creating Aid Legion

The cause: To raise money for projects in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has prompted charities around the world to raise money to support Ukrainians. But many local charities often get squeezed out or are too small to be sustainable.

Anna Goncharova, who runs an advertising agency in Kyiv, saw the need for a mid-sized Ukrainian charity that would have the clout of an international aid organization and the flexibility of a local group. She reached out to colleagues who have connections across Europe and North America, and together they launched Aid Legion.

“We started a few weeks after war broke out,” she said in an interview from Georgia, where she is now based. “We started little by little. We had friends from abroad who wanted to help but they were not sure where to donate.”

The founders also included Eugene Kavaler, a Kyiv businessman who has lost his company because of the war, and Dan Pantelo, a New York-based marketing consultant who has Ukrainian roots. They’ve been joined by several more entrepreneurs in several countries.

The charity’s initial focus was on raising money for military equipment such as drones, helmets and bulletproof vests. It has since branched out and the group is now raising money to support teachers involved in an online education program and to assist mobile hospitals serving people on the front line. They are also involved in helping to rebuild a school in Hostomel, outside Kyiv, that was badly damaged during three weeks of Russian occupation. The school was struck four times by bombs, which shattered 300 windows and destroyed half the roof.

Aid Legion has launched a fundraising drive to pay for new windows in the school. And they are hoping to raise US$52,000 to purchase more military drones. “Some projects are temporary and some need donations all the time,” Ms. Goncharova said.

The group has also come up with novel promotional material to keep people engaged. “Please finish your coffee,” says one online video. “No need to give up on your life, get depressed or take up the Grandpa’s gun. Instead, donate! Donation is your best weapon in this fight for freedom and humanity. … Finally, you can be like Gandalf. But for real.”

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