En route to the front lines: Amherst man to deliver more than 2,000 pounds of supplies to Ukrainian soldiers

  • Jeff Peddar holds a pair of thermal imaging monoculars, one of the many items he and others have collected to take to Ukraine. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jeff Peddar stands with items he and others have collected to take to Ukraine, at his home in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jeff Peddar with items he and others have collected to take to Ukraine at his home in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jeff Peddar converts first aid kits to field trauma kits by taking out what fighting Ukrainian’s don’t need and replacing it with what they do need. “No one in a war zone was ever worried about a wound that needed a band aid, ” explained Peddar. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jeff Peddar converts first aid kits to field trauma kits by taking out what fighting Ukrainians don’t need and replacing it with what they do need. “No one in a war zone was ever worried about a wound that needed a Band-Aid,” explained Peddar. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2022 8:41:47 PM

AMHERST — Thermal imaging binoculars allowing a soldier to see the body heat of an enemy combatant, quickly identifying a potential source of danger, is an important tool on the battlefield.

At $3,500, though, these are expensive pieces of equipment, especially for the Ukrainian military as its soldiers continue fighting against the invasion by Russian forces.

Soon three such binoculars, along with at least $40,000 worth of other supplies that soldiers will be able to use, will be heading to the war zone in Ukraine, some coming directly from an Amherst home.

For Jeff Peddar, who since early May has organized fundraising through both social media and personal phone calls to friends, the effort is a way to directly assist Ukrainian soldiers.

“This is an opportune time where people want to help,” Peddar said.

Inside his garage, many of the items heading overseas are laid out awaiting packing, including ballistic-rated goggles that can shield soldiers from bullets and shrapnel, camelback hydration stations that will keep them hydrated, protective hearing muffs for their ears and a significant quantity of medical supplies.

When he departs for Poland, Peddar will be accompanying others with expertise in getting the items, weighing somewhere around 2,000 to 2,500 pounds, to the troops.

Peddar only undertook the project when he met up with a Massachusetts state trooper with ties to Ukraine, who also has a familiarity with the supply chain in eastern Poland.

“I would get all this, but not have a way to get it to the troops,” Peddar said.

The state trooper helped connect Peddar to Terry Reid, a North Attleboro resident who recently returned from a second trip to Ukraine and Poland with two Ukrainian-American friends and support from the Ukrainian American Youth Association of Boston. That group has created a safe supply route to the front lines, buying two vehicles to assist.

“What stands out to me is that he is not Ukrainian, yet he has jumped into this effort, full steam, raising well over $50,000 in donations and supplies in one week,” Reid wrote in an email.

A retired Marine who had two tours of duty in Iraq, Peddar said he knows how to get his hands on what is needed, ordering online from both conventional sources, such as Amazon, and through various military surplus channels.

Under the plan, the gear and supplies will specifically go to eight units, or about five bags per unit.

“What we’re doing charities can’t do as easily,” Peddar said. He observes that because the supplies are going directly to troops, the military leaders will be able to use them as they see fit.

“They can disseminate it out how they choose,” Peddar said,

So while some soldiers may need gear such as boots, others may prefer the 40 field trauma medical packs containing ibuprofen tablets, compression bandages and gauze.

“The goal was to accommodate the biggest needs at the same time,” Peddar said.

When they arrive in Poland, Peddar and the others have to unpack and load up a box truck at the airport. Eventually, the two vans already acting as couriers will get the various items to the troops, as they have requested.

The supplies include night vision goggles, knee pads, tactical gloves, powerbanks that can recharge and flashlights, tourniquets, and markers for writing on the tourniquet when applied, quick clot powder to stop bleeding, and antibiotics

“I went to war twice, so I know this will save a lot of lives,” Peddar said.

Peddar anticipates that his time in Poland will also be to support refugees in Mielec, where 120 people are staying in a former spa. He hopes to purchase a freezer and refrigerator that can be used there, and help out with the rebuilding of a home for 40 orphans.

He also intends to buy $12,000 to $20,000 worth of groceries when he is in Warsaw, feeding people in need for a week or two.

Peddar said while he has no connections to that part of Europe, he doesn’t want to miss out on doing good deeds, whenever possible. “I wanted to find a way to help out,” Peddar said.

Peddar said anyone interested in the project, which he hopes to continue doing, can send money via Venmo and PayPal to @JeffPeddar. Inquiries about the project can be made to jeffreypeddar@gmail.com.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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