ATHENS, Ohio – Last July, Dmitry Feld came home from work and saw a missed call from Athens, Ohio, on his answering machine. The Ukrainian American, who lives in Lake Placid, New York, did not know anyone from Athens, but decided to dial the number back. Holly Dallman answered.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m not crazy. I’ve done this before. My husband and I would like to ship a container to Ukraine,’” Dallman, founder of Little Wing Relief, said.
Upset by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Dallman began researching ways to help online. There, she learned about Feld—the marketing manager for USA Luge, the official U.S. Olympic team for the winter sport—who has coordinated several initiatives in Lake Placid to aid Ukraine, where he grew up.
“I said, ‘I’ll be happy to become a part of you, not only guide you, but I’ll raise money, and pay for some items that we needed for the Ukrainian army,’” Feld said. “That’s how we started.”
Less than half a year later, Dallman, Feld, the Athens organization Little Wing Relief and other community partners shipped a 40-foot container with five tons of supplies — pet food, blankets, medical equipment, educational materials — to Ukraine.
Dallman began coordinating international humanitarian aid in the 1990s, after Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras. Her giving spirit emerged, however, long before she started formally organizing.
“When Holly and I first got married, Holly said to me one day, ‘Tom, I want to get rich so I can give away a lot of money,’” said Tom Medley, Dallman’s husband and her partner at Little Wing. “And we didn’t get rich. We never did. But she found a way and she always has.”
Through Little Wing, Dallman has organized rummage sales to raise money, collected material donations and worked with local organizations, such as Rural Action and Tractor Supply, to execute relief projects.
That strategy allowed Little Wing to send more than $150,000 worth of medical, military, food, personal hygiene, children and pet supplies to Ukraine last year.
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Little Wing currently operates out of a space in the Market on State, 1006-C East State St., that mall owner Brent Hayes lets the organization use for free. Inside Little Wing’s headquarters, volunteers sort donations behind the racks of clothes and other displayed donated goods that fill the office.
Each volunteer—mostly women, Dallman noted—brings skills that aid unique aspects of Little Wing’s operations. For example, Debi Daniels, former business manager for Ohio University Libraries, uses her experience with spreadsheets to create customs inventories for items that will be sent to Ukraine.
Volunteer Mary Hogan is empathetic to the cause and routinely donates and packages supplies.
“We are a little wing,” Dallman said. “We’re not a big, huge organization. We aren’t some enormous place that owns warehouses. We’re just a little wing flying along trying to help out where we can.”
Little Wing is accepting monetary and supply donations to complete its second shipment. Needs and ways to get involved are posted on the organization’s website.
NOTE: This story has been updated on January 24, 2022, to reflect that Little Wing Relief does not have nonprofit status and that the shipping costs for the first shipment to Ukraine were paid for via a donation to the organization.
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