Flow of donations in Estonia slowing, Ukraine still needs help

List of items being accepted at a donation drive organized by the Estonian Students' Society (EÜS) in Tartu. March 6, 2022.
List of items being accepted at a donation drive organized by the Estonian Students' Society (EÜS) in Tartu. March 6, 2022. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

When the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, people in Estonia responded with great zeal and donations poured in. With the war now in its third month, donors' drive has begun to lose momentum, however help is still needed in Ukraine.

Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv oblasts are the parts of Ukraine currently in the most critical condition and thus the destination for humanitarian aid being organized by aid NGO Mondo. Since the beginning of March, Mondo has sent its Ukrainian partner Vostok SOS a total of 220 tons of humanitarian aid.

"People's basic needs still need to be met," said Veronika Svištš, humanitarian aid coordinator at Mondo. "Food, hygiene, shelter, electricity — they really need generators right now. If anyone here in Estonia would like to offer them at a good price here, then please get in touch."

While people in Estonia were initially very generous with their donations, the biggest initial wave had passed within the first month, and according to Svištš, donors' generosity could use a little push.

Aid organizations have managed to get operations going, but the flow of donations is starting to slow, despite cash donations currently being the most efficient means of helping those in Ukraine. Currently, Mondo has enough money left to continue sending humanitarian aid for another couple of weeks.

"I guess this is the case with every war, that new issues start to come up, and we ourselves are starting to grow tired as well, but on the other hand, we have to endure," the aid coordinator said. "Ukrainians are doing their absolute best to endure as well. What I saw in person there, when we met with our partners and seeing people in general — you can see the exhaustion there too. But they're still continuing to work and work to help their people and ensure the survival of Ukraine."

Supermarket chain Selver has long since been collecting monetary donations to support Ukraine, but over the past week, it has also teamed up with the Estonian Red Cross to offer shoppers the opportunity to buy groceries online to be sent to Ukraine.

"The most popular has been €1 donations, with the goal being to donate every time one goes shopping, but there have also been cases where someone has made a several-hundred-euro donation at once while shopping," said Selver business accounting director Kristjan Anderson. "Quantified, the most frequently purchased have been the packages of basic everyday foods, i.e. the €5 and €10 packages. Sales of the €25 packages are currently most modest."

According to Anderson, customers were very actively donating money during the first couple of weeks of the war, but by now there are fewer people donating money than those donating food via Selver's online store.

Donations can also be made via more unconventional means ⁠— such as by depositing empty bottles. In the span of two months, €100,000 has been raised via bottle deposit machines. According to Eero Nõgene, CEO of reverse vending machine provider Tomra Baltic, this is a significant sum.

For the past ten years, people returning empty bottles for deposits have had the option of donating their deposit money to support sending children in Estonia to the theater; an average of €140,000 per year is raised this way.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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