South county resident receives Ukraine medal of support
Local resident Sally Baer recently received the Medal of Support from Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s commander of armed forces.
Baer has engaged in multiple volunteer trips to Ukraine, collectively spending multiple months of time providing humanitarian aid. Baer has also raised a large amount of funding over the past year to provide military tourniquets, Celox bandages and other equipment for Ukrainian soldiers.
“I purchase drones, tourniquets, Celox, vehicles, whatever they need,” she said. ” I typically buy things that are hard for them to get in Ukraine, like the tourniquets and Celox.”
Baer told The Post-Journal she has been working consistently since last May with a group in Ukraine that raises funds to provide aid to Ukraine’s military. The group recently requested Baer to participate in an Instagram Live question and answer session, which she quickly agreed to take part in; however, Baer did not realize that she would be presented with the Medal of Support during the video event. About two minutes into the video, Baer said the woman leading the volunteer group in Ukraine announced that Baer had received the medal for her contributions and dedicated support of Ukraine. The award was presented to Baer and another woman from Poland, whom Baer will meet when she travels to Ukraine in March.
“It was a shock, and I immediately thought of the first days of the war and the people that first contributed and sort of started this whole grassroots effort that we could do something, we could make a difference, and all the people afterwards kind of went through my mind,” she said. “I called a number of them to let them know that this is really on their behalf as well, this group of supporters and people that continue to donate money and resources.”
Baer shared that the medal is special because it is an award that is “very limited.” She explained that the honor is beyond words because it comes from the “incredible place” of Ukraine.
“To be honored in that way, I really don’t have the words to express what it’s meant to receive that,” she said.
Baer’s son recently returned from a trip in Ukraine, delivering military medical aid. Currently, Baer is preparing for her next trip to Ukraine in March. Prior to her trip, Baer is raising funds through a Facebook auction and fundraiser and participating in various speaking engagements, encouraging people to contribute donations to the people of Ukraine.
For her upcoming trip, Baer is hoping to provide 100 military tourniquets, totaling $2,500, 100 military Celox bandages, totaling $3,600, a $2,000 thermal vision optical image sight requested by Ukraine and a $3,000 vehicle that can be painted camouflage and sent to the military front.
“That’s what my goal is,” she said. “It’s basically about 12,000, maybe 13,000, for this upcoming trip. I will probably leave around March 12 for a week. It’s the anniversary, and I’ll travel through the places I traveled through a year ago when I first got there in March and kind of honor everything that’s happened during that trip.”
Baer is confident that people will continue to support her work for the people of Ukraine.
“It remains strong and very helpful,” she said. “It has shown me that our yeses make a difference and together they’re very powerful. The light always outshine the darkness. This is a very dark period of time in Ukraine and for the world, and the light always outshines the darkness. The people in this community have shown that over and over again.”
According to Baer, she has even received an offer from someone willing to contribute $1,000 of $2,000 a month to support the humanitarian aid.
Baer encourages the local community to participate in fundraising efforts for Ukraine. Those interested in supporting her efforts can visit 6 Baers Toy and Gift Shop, located at 50 Chautauqua Avenue in Lakewood, donate to her nonprofit (baeressentials.org) or friend her on Facebook.
Another way Baer has received donations for Ukraine is through monthly sponsorships. Baer currently has roughly a dozen people contributing through monthly sponsorships.
“It makes a huge difference to have that predictable income to know that we can still provide things that I hear directly from Ukraine that they need,” she said. “If the war keeps going, I guess I keep going.”
Following her trip to Ukraine in March, Baer plans to continue raising support for the people of Ukraine and providing equipment and humanitarian aid for the country’s armed forces.
Baer believes it is important to continue to remind people that the people of Ukraine are fighting not only for the freedom of their nation, but also in a sense, for the “freedom of the world.”
As the one year anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine quickly approaches, Baer reflected on the community’s support of her humanitarian aid efforts.
“A year later I see how powerful it is when we collectively say yes,” she said. “Together we are a force for good. No matter how scary this situation is, we know that we can make a difference. It is an privilege and an honor to be a part of this community.”