Columbia Mayor announces city plans to send bulletproof vests & food to Ukraine fighters

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Published: Apr. 2, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann announced Saturday afternoon the city is planning to send 50 bullet-proof vests and a pallet of ready to eat meals to Ukraine.

Rickenmann described the vests as “extra” and “used” from the Columbia Police Department, but they remain operational.

He said the meals are coming from the city’s emergency services, which had been stockpiled for a potential future crisis.

His announcement came during a South Carolina Stands with Ukraine rally at the statehouse steps.

“It’s not as much as we hope. But it’s a start, and hopefully those bullet proof vests will defensive tools and hopefully they will save lives of those brave Ukranians who are fighting,” he told the roughly 20 to 30 onlookers in attendance.

Rickenmann said the city is in the process looking for the fastest way to send the gear.

He said the city had been approached about other ideas.

“We had suggestions from citizens about sending all the confiscated guns and ammunition and so forth and we felt like this was a much better gesture as trying to save a life than taking a life,” he said.

It’s unclear what more the city may donate to Ukraine.

Rickenmann said the city may work with local businesses and actors to send medical supplies, school supplies, military gear, clothes or additional items depending on what needs are presented.

The rally featured a series of other speakers, calling on neighbors to donate what they can to help the Ukrainian cause.

Ukrainian-American and Greenville resident Alyona Smokvin spoke about her family who still lives in the country. She said some are on the front lines.

“Every notification I get on my phone to this day it’s in hopes that my family will be answering the messages and calling and saying we are okay and we are alive,” she said.

The rally started at the statehouse before those in attendance, waving Ukrainian flags and holding up signs, marched to the governor’s mansion.

The U.S. State Department has partnered with GoFundMe to gather donations for non-profits working in Ukraine.

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