"Vitamin cocktails" and dry fruit for soldiers: how volunteers fight colds on the front line
December 5 is Volunteer Day. During the 8 years of war in the East, the word "volunteers" has firmly entered our lexicon. According to the UN Office in Ukraine, since 2014, one in five Ukrainians has had volunteer experience or donated funds to volunteer projects. In 2015, there were 47% of these people. In tragic times for the country, to support the Ukrainian army, the functions of the state to provide soldiers with necessities were taken over by the Ukrainians themselves.
The volunteer movement has united society, created an effective structure of public organizations, groups of people who are ready to work tirelessly and for free to solve the most pressing and painful problems of the wounded country.
Volunteers still have enough work to do. But while in the early years of Russian aggression, volunteers supplied food, necessities, and military equipment to the front, most now care for veterans, helping the wounded, and providing social, legal, and psychological support to combatants and families of the fallen. However, there are still people who are preparing useful and necessary delicacies for the military. And although the supply of food for the Ukrainian army has been properly organized in recent years, there is something that soldiers are sorely lacking.
A Kyiv volunteer told Rubryka what our soldiers still lack.
What is the problem?
According to the press service of the Joint Forces Operation, there are currently no food problems in the zone of the Joint Forces Operation. The military menus include first and second courses, a variety of salads and fruits. Products are delivered on time and their range is quite acceptable: there are grains, meat, and vegetables. Military chefs, both in the rear and frontline positions, try to prepare the most delicious dishes so that every soldier is full and feels at home.
However, from the very beginning of the war until today, Lora Koposova from Kyiv has collected and sent food parcels to the front; they help scouts, snipers, and guards to fight seasonal colds and recharge in time with vitamins and energy at the battle post. Such products aren't issued in the Armed Forces, and such supplements are very helpful for guys.
What is the solution?
Now the volunteer's parcels include anti-cold warming mixtures and hundreds of packages of fruit snacks. And it started in 2014.
Lora Koposova is an experienced volunteer. Helping the front began in 2014 when many people couldn't sit idly by. Then everyone started doing something. Some were weaving nets, some were making first aid kits, some were knitting socks and mittens. Lora Koposova had a dryer at home, so she joined a group that made dry borshch. The package included cabbage, carrots, beets, spices, salt, and tomato paste. Just throw the mixture in a saucepan, cook for 15 minutes and as a result, you have a quick hot dish.
The woman recalls that once many 50-kg bags of buckwheat, millet, and wheat groats were brought to the Cook's Hundred of the Capital. It was inconvenient to give such huge bags to volunteers going to the front. So they started making soups. Grains, carrots, onions, spices: the soldiers get a bunch of portions of soup. And when someone brought them bags of oatmeal and rice, the range expanded with dry milk porridge. At the same time, they began to make sets of dried fruits.
"Fruit bags are an indispensable snack on the front line," says Lora Koposova. "In case you're a sniper in a stratified position or standing at night on duty. If you eat a raw apple on an empty stomach, it is likely to cause discomfort in your stomach, and if it's something heavy, you will fall asleep. And from a handful of apple chips and nuts, hunger will be blunted, and you don't want to sleep. Now there are no special problems with soups and porridges at the front. But why aren't our soldiers given something like our fruit bags?"
How does it work?
In 2018, Lora Koposova left Cook's Hundred of the Capital and began to make exclusively fruit bags on her own. The Fruit Frills became her main activity.
"We have a small 'Fruit Team' where everyone has their area of work. All people are reliable, unbreakable, and help the Warriors of the Light since 2014. We still hold on and don't give up," says Ms. Lora.
Every two weeks the volunteer comes to the Troieshchyna market. Her friend, Mykhailo Pozniy, who works there, gives her six huge boxes of fresh apples for free each time; Lora's small team makes apple chips, the main ingredient in vitamin fruit packs for snipers and scouts. The next step is to form the package itself. Nuts, raisins, dried apricots, dates, and dried apples are included in zip packages (10 * 15 mm). Everything, except for apples, "Fruit Team" buys in large batches at their expense or with the financial support of social media users. Then these bags go to the front in parcels or with volunteers.
"Of course, we don't feed the entire front," says Lora Koposova," but there is no such thing in the army. And boys and girls get a colorful, vitamin, and delicious package that gives strength when on the post or intelligence. In addition, it is a delicious and warm ray of kindness, psychological support, and the awareness that there are people who care about soldiers, worry about them."
Ms. Lora bought a dryer for vegetables and fruits for her needs back in 2011, but for 7 years now this ordinary home appliance has been working daily for the needs of the front. The dryer is large, 15 levels, it holds a lot. In 10 days, Laura dries two large "banana" boxes of apples, about 50 kg.
Sometimes Fruit Frills are replenished with other fruits, which Mykhailo also shares during the season: strawberries, plums, oranges. From Lora's experience, you can dry everything except cucumbers and potatoes: "I used to dry meat for scouts. But now I just don't have enough money for everything."
Another area of work of Kyiv volunteers is the production of anti-cold honey-lemon-ginger mixtures in the autumn-winter period. "Explosive mixtures" (the recipe of which was shared with Lora Koposova by volunteer Viktoria Petrova) is a useful and tasty thing, it warms in cold trenches and helps fight flu and colds. Volunteers also buy ginger and lemons themselves, and honey is shared by caring people.
Did they really succeed?
In 2020 alone, Lora Koposova and her fruit team produced 7,300 packets of vitamin and nutritious snacks. And about 300 liters of the anti-cold mixture!
Lora Koposova is an accountant by profession, she works 5 days a week from morning to evening, and after work, the homes of Lora and her associates turn into a "fruit factory."
"If I had a real factory," the volunteer dreams. "I would organize the production of tasty delicacies for warriors. Not only should they eat dry food. We're not talking about those fighters who are in the military base where there's a canteen and normal food. But about those who are in the front line, when nothing can be cooked."
The products of the "Fruit Team" even have their brand label. It was designed by Lora's husband and printed at a volunteer printing house: "I'm supported by all the work. We have a small staff. My director also dries apples when needed. We've printed labels on borshch, soups, and porridge several times, and on Fruit Frills and Explosive Mixtures. With them, snack bags and bottles of vitamin concentrate are visible even in a dark dugout."
"The guys of 24 OMBr thank you from the bottom of their hearts for Explosive Mixtures. In this cold time, when many people have a cold, these mixtures are the medicine! Another thank you for a strategic vitamin product, Fruit Frills. Thank you to everyone who makes this vitamin bomb!" such grateful feedback is received by volunteers from the front.
Even more useful solutions!
- Lora Koposova pours "Explosive Mixtures" into milk bottles. Bottles are given by friends who drink milk. The "Fruit Team" collects containers all year round so that from autumn to spring there is no hassle with packaging. First, the ginger-lemon-honey mixture was poured into plastic liter buckets. But you have to buy them, and they aren't reliable; they can crack. And the bottles have worked perfectly; they're strong, 100% suitable for food, and thanks to such packaging, milk containers get a second life, instead of going straight to the landfill.
- Last year, ginger, according to the volunteer, was "worth its weight in gold"; it became so at the beginning of the Covid era, sometime in March. Then they even had to stop making vitamin mixture. But if the situation repeats itself for some reason, Ms. Lora is always ready for Plan B: an explosive mixture can be cranberries or viburnum with sugar. By the way, this option is also relevant when someone is allergic to honey or ginger.
- Several years ago, the mother of Olena Lobas, one of the Fruit Team volunteers, was attacked by a robber, and the woman suffered a severe head injury. Liudmila, who worked all her life as a mathematics teacher, and after retirement was a tutor for students, had a very hard time with this problem. The woman lost interest in the outside world, was in a complete depression. What to do in such a situation, how to help a loved one get to their feet?
"We had a plan," says Ms. Lora. "Olena brought the ingredients of Fruit Frills to her mother and said that the Warriors of Light on the front line need our help. Now Liudmila is 78 years old. And she has been packing fruit bags for five years. Every day she sits down at the table and makes sets of peanuts, raisins, dates, and apples! Looking at such people, can I stop our activities and give up? I can't! Such people give hope, inspiration, and strength. And we continue to work so that the murderer finally disappears from the face of the earth!"
If you want to join in the making of Fruit Frills and Explosive Mixtures and help our soldiers to be strong and not get sick, write to Lora Koposova on her Facebook page. The Fruit Team always needs honey, ginger, dried fruit, and nuts.