They don’t know each other yet, but they didn’t need too. What sent them on their mission was love of family and neighbor. A church in Crofton, Maryland and a Ukrainian native have partnered to save lives on the front in Ukraine.
“With the first shipment they received all the boxes, “Max Teplitski, the Ukraine native-turned-D.C. resident said. “They were able to distribute them. How many lives were saved? We don’t have a count, but we know that all of them got to the medics that are working in the field.”
Teplitski came to the United States from Ukraine in 1996 as a young man. He finds himself today on a mission with Saint. Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church on Davidson Road in Crofton, Maryland. They are working to save his former countrymen from wounds they receive on the frontlines in the defense of Ukraine against Russian invasion.
The war has brought together people of goodwill, who don’t really know each other.
Teplitski described his contact at St. Elizabeth’s, Brendan Walls, as the church organist, a brother of a woman he worked with. Walls is actually the director of music at the parish, who does play music himself for mass. Walls described Teplitski as someone who either worked with, or had worked with his sister.
At first when Walls’ sister asked if he would help, the parishioner suspected Teplitski might be a scammer. But his sister assured him of Max’s authenticity. And an internet search finds Teplitski the subject of an article from a confirmed nonprofit registered with the IRS. He is a PhD who works in the produce industry.
“My family lives in the eastern part of Ukraine that is still free of the Russians,” Teplitski said. “ For the first few weeks of the Russian invasion, nobody knew exactly what was happening. But now they organize into these volunteer groups that are packing medical supplies for the fighting zones. They pack them, They deliver them to the volunteer doctors and also to the medics that are attached to the units. That’s my direct connection.”
Teplitski said he has begged and even tried to bribe his parents, cousins and other family to come to the United States for safety’s sake. But they have firmly declined the offer, he said.
“As much as it hurts me to realize my family is in harm’s way I know they made a decision that makes sense to them.,” he said. “I’m just doing my little part to support them in that.”
The Crofton church’s first donation was six boxes. Their second, which started transit on Saturday, June 25, included eight boxes., of about 30 to 40 pounds.
“Mostly it’s the tactical supplies,” Teplitski said. “ It’s the blood-stopping bandages, combat first aid. Whatever Basically whatever who is severely wounded would need to get stabilized before getting delivered to an actual clinic.”
The D.C. resident said his parents and cousins, work along with many Ukrainians to get the supplies to those in combat or emergent situations. They prefer small group distribution so as not to be targeted by Russian satellites, he said.
Walls said St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is a parish that like to help, not only in prayer, but in taking on physical missions to help others.
“What the people are happy to do is do anything, because we are so powerless,” he said. “There is nothing we can do except pray. In this parish they are very outreach oriented. It’s been fantastic to see. We’re in a particularly good position I guess, There are a lot of seniors here--a lot of people who have a lot of medical gear. The stuff that they a re taking--medical face masks, gauze pads, bandages, for wounds and stuff.”
Teplitski has set up an Amazon Registry for people who want to help to order life-saving medical supplies. And Walls said the public is invited to drop relevant medical supplies at St. Elizabeth, either outside the church, or inside the collection bin in the lobby during regular business hours.
“I was in touch with a volunteer group in Ukraine and they sent me the wish-list of things that they need,” Teplitski said. “ I developed an Amazon registry, the most depressing registry I’ve ever put together. They have very specific bandages--whatever will stabilize a critically wounded person.”
The shipments get sent to Silver Spring, Maryland in groups of about eight boxes, where they are organized and FedExed to Newark, New Jersey, before being flown to Ukraine where they are trucked to eastern Ukraine and packed in backpacks designated for combat medics, Teplitski said.
But he says those caught in the war 5,000-plus miles from Maryland don’t only want medical supplies. They have requested kind words too.
“When I talk to my parents one of the things they ask for is supplies--which are super-helpful, but also notes,” he explained. “They say it’s important for us and also for people on the front lines to know that we’re fighting a good fight on behalf of the free world, and for democracy and for freedom”
Walls said St. Elizabeth’s mission to help Ukraine with combat medicine was supposed to end in June, but now may be extended to the end of July. And the notes are on the way too.
“What we’re going to do is have the children’s choir write care notes,” he said. “ I’m going to get the kids to do that.”