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Solution 13:55 25 Nov 2022

Coffee, Facebook, and helping army: how Lutsk volunteers raise millions for Ukrainian forces

Our strength lies in the ability to unite! Since February 24, ordinary Ukrainians bought Bayraktar drones, a satellite, launched hundreds of volunteer initiatives, and showed that they are ready to win at any cost!

Media-Kava is an initiative from Lutsk which organizes online auctions for the opportunity to drink coffee with a famous person. Read about earned several million, auctions on Facebook, and interesting lots in Rubryka's article.

What is the problem?

Nine months of war and drained wallets

The full-scale war in Ukraine has been going on for nine months. Ukraine spends about 130 billion hryvnias every month to repel enemies. These billions are the help of partners, our taxes, and, of course, our donations. However, the economy is depleting, and so is the budget of Ukrainians.

Attracting donations is becoming more challenging, as is supporting each other.

Яке рішення?

Coffee, money, and casual communication

Together, we are power! According to a recent survey by Suspilne, 87% of Ukrainians have donated to the Ukrainian armed forces at least once. You can help the army and benefit yourself. With this principle in mind, the Media-Kava project is being implemented in Lutsk, where the participant can communicate with a celebrity and support our soldiers.

How does it work?

"Coffee with a volunteer"

The Media-Kava project grew out of the local initiative called "Coffee with a volunteer," held in 2015 in the Volyn region. At that time, the war in Donbas had been raging for about a year. People who actively donated to the army at the beginning of russia's invasion began to exhaust themselves mentally and financially. It became increasingly difficult to collect funds for things necessary for our military. 

One of the volunteers, Veronika Fedosova-Tsybulska, offered a non-trivial solution: "What if we try to sell ourselves?"

The opportunity to drink coffee and chat with a well-known volunteer in return for a donation was liked by many residents of Lutsk: during pleasant coffee sessions, the volunteers collected a significant amount at that time—more than 50,000 hryvnias. 

At first, the initiative was planned as a one-time event. At that time, it collected funds for the needs of the anti-terrorist operation officers. But thanks to the initiative, Lutsk volunteers raised funds for the Volyn regional hospital for war veterans for seven years. And with the beginning of a large-scale war, the project began to work directly on the needs of the front and gained momentum. In July, the first million hryvnias were collected as part of the project. As of the end of October, they were raising the third one.

Place your bets, gentlemen!

The essence of the online auction is simple. It is an opportunity to drink coffee with someone famous. 

"People are not traded with on the project, as one might think," Myroslav Vataschuk, the administrator of the Media-Kava community on Facebook, laughs in a conversation with Rubryka. "Not a person is being bought, but the opportunity to communicate with them live or online. And any interesting person can participate in the project, not necessarily from Lutsk." 

Producer Ihor Kondratiuk, singer Oleh "Fagot" Mykhailiuta, TV presenter Oleh Paniuta, Minister of Sports Vadym Hutsait, writer Ostap Ukrainets and many others have already participated as the Media-Kava lots.

Bidding takes place on the project's Facebook page, in the comments under the post about the new lot. There is also a "special service" like an anonymous bid. Suppose someone does not want to "shine" in the competition publicly. In that case, one can report the bid privately to the administrator, who, in case of verification of the buyer.

Олександра Макеєва

Oleksandra Makeeva with the leader of the rock band MERI Viktor Vinnyk 

Oleksandra Makeeva, co-organizer of the project, participated in the Media-Kava auctions more than once, both as a lot and as a buyer. A meeting with the leader of the rock band "MERI, Viktor Vinnyk, was given to Oleksandra by an anonymous person who bought the lot for UAH 13,000.

"For me, it is already the third season of Media Kava. At first, it was a local project, and then it went far beyond the borders of the Volyn region. There was a time when the first thing I did in the morning was to open my phone and see what was new in Media Kava. 

The project fully met our expectations! This year, Myroslav organized all this because it was necessary to purchase something for 30,000 hryvnias, and now the project is confidently moving towards a figure 100 times larger. Of course, we closed that first need, transferred the necessary item to the front, and besides that, there are many other valuable things. Little Media Kava is doing great things! In addition, it has long since become a project about each of us. After all, anyone can become a newsmaker. And every person has something interesting that can be 'bought.' We even once joked that we identify people in the city by only one sign — whether they were sold at the Media Kava or not," Oleksandra laughs.

"In any case," Myroslav Vataschuk comments, "who wouldn't be interested in talking, for example, with a childhood idol or a very cool specialist in a certain field? They may not be known to the general public, but people who work in this niche are willing to pay crazy money to talk to this person."

And at the same time, they support the Ukrainain Armed Forces.

Did they succeed?

As of the end of November, 517 lots have been published since 2014 by celebrities and interesting people. All of them are buying up every lot. The starting price is unchanged: 150 hryvnias. But the final amount can reach tens of thousands. 

The auction winner paid 22,000 hryvnias to talk to showman Ihor Kondratik. Another unique lot is an internet coffee chat with polar explorers at Academician Vernadskyi's station in Antarctica. The buyer paid about 20 thousand hryvnias for coffee and a virtual tour of Antarctica. 

The highest bid that was declared the winner and paid was 100,000 hryvnias. They paid so much for the opportunity to chat over a cup of coffee with Melania Podoliak, coordinator of the Serhii Prytula Fund. 

Sometimes the military, for whom the project was launched, participates in bidding. Dmytro (name changed) is currently on the front line but has already managed to win two lots. He says:

"I didn't drink coffee because I am far from Lutsk. One of the lots I won is in another country altogether. The goal of the project is to help the military. The military spends a significant part on equipment and economical expenses. So I competed with the passion for helping my brothers. And I will drink some more coffee as soon as I get home!"

In addition, the so-called "brotherly finds" are often put up for auction: posters, paintings, patriotic embroidering, Ukrposhta post stamps, things with autographs of celebrities, and even a trophy ration of the russian occupiers, which our soldier provided to the organizers.

All money collected goes to the needs of military personnel, regularly reported by the community administrator. He is engaged in procurement. Thanks to the initiative, it was possible to collect more than 2 million hryvnias!

Most were spent on winter ammunition. Also, volunteers buy and send to the front electronics, gadgets, and accessories for them, tools, and care kits for weapons. 

They work independently and in collaboration with more powerful volunteer associations. And if the coffee meetings take place live in Lutsk, the meeting participants will be treated for free by the local cafe Sharlotka.

"Bombs do not fall in Lutsk. The city did not become an arena of hostilities only because between us and the russian horde. There is a human shield of boys and girls—our defenders. Media Kava is our opportunity to be useful here and now with gratitude to those who protect us," says Myroslav Vataschuk.

When we ask the other co-founder of the project, Oleksandra Makeeva, what she sees as the main advantage of Media-Kava, she answers:

"Back in 2014, when I was worried that everything was lost/we lost/betrayed, I donated. It helped me not to go 'cuckoo.' And even over time, it stabilized me to some extent. I am already silent about how important it is not to stop and to continue helping our soldiers. After all, the war continues. We turn on the toggle switch for victory and donate-donate-donate."

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