A Chilliwack veteran wants to provide physical protection for a group of Canadians who are doing volunteer work in Ukraine.
John Lowe has a goal of raising at least $10,000 so he can buy body armour for Canadians through an organization called Humanitarian Emergency Response Operations Society, or HEROS.
And he’s doing it by selling coffee beans – one bag at a time.
“For me this is a way to keep helping people who need it,” he said. “Every cent goes to body armour. Every cent of this is going to pay to protect guys who are there on their own dime helping Ukraine.”
Lowe is a Canadian veteran who fought in Afghanistan and is now working with the group of volunteers and veterans in Ukraine. He said there are people driving around in unarmoured vehicles and what they’re asking for is personal protective equipment.
Those with HEROS are driving food and medical supplies into Ukraine and driving people out.
Ideally, he’d like to buy 10 sets of armour, but right now his goal is five sets. Each set (for one person) includes a bulletproof vest and helmet which cost a total of $2,000.
“Five sets are probably the easiest to get over there as quick and safe as possible.”
The plates inside the vests are made of polyethylene and coated in ceramic. They’re rated to stop a 7.62x39 millimetre round which is the most common ammunition fired by the AK – the most popular rifle used by the Russians.
Once he’s raised enough money to buy the armour, Lowe said either he or someone else will hand deliver it.
Other organizations bringing suitcases full of supplies to Ukraine have been doing the same thing.
“They throw it in a backpack, they’re putting it in duffle bags and they fly it over, they hand it off and they fly home,” said Dan Spielman of Joint Force Tactical in Chilliwack where the coffee will be sold.
Lowe added that all of the money that comes in from his fundraiser will go towards the body armour, not towards getting the gear to Ukraine.
He has partnered with Langley coffee roaster Republica Coffee and they’ve created a special packaging called ‘This Coffee Stops Bullets.’ It’s available as whole beans and ground and costs $20 a bag, $10 of which goes to the fundraiser.
To buy the seed money for the coffee, Lowe sold his own items that he didn’t want anymore like his canoe and some antiques and collectibles.
“We’re asking people to help out with something that’s happening across the other side of the world. But in reality, it’s at our fingertips every day. Every day I go online and see what’s happening in Ukraine.”
Folks can buy the coffee three ways, on Instagram @ThisCoffeeStopsBullets, by emailing John Lowe at email@example.com, and at Joint Force Tactical in store (103-5725 Vedder Rd.) and online at jointforcetactical.com.
People can also make financial donations to the fundraiser either by e-transferring money to Lowe at firstname.lastname@example.org (then email or text the password to him at 604-996-9031) or in store at Joint Force Tactical.