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Thor Johnson is unpacking what he hopes will soon be a thriving new business in Kodiak: The Emerald Game House. He’s setting up shelves and working on displays for the merchandise.
Along with Warhammer figurines and small jars of paint, there’s a trunk that Johnson is packing up. It’s filled with everything from blankets, to baby food, to bandages, and its intended recipients are refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“I have — like everyone else — have been watching world events surrounding Ukraine. And with my background in the service, I see the suffering that those people are going through and I feel like I need to be able to do something. And collecting supplies, and working with charities and foundations that are involved to send those supplies over seemed like really, I mean… it’s like the least I could even possibly think of to do,” Johnson said.
He’s just finished filling his second trunk of supplies. Since he first asked for help, he says folks have been trickling in to drop off what they can spare. Johnson is asking for food and basic medical supplies, as well as cold weather gear, toys, and candy.
He says he’s still looking for a way to actually get the supplies to refugees fleeing the conflict, but he says he’s determined to get the aid where it’s needed as soon as he can.
“I’ve got a gentleman who’s got- he contacted me and, and he’s going to donate a very substantial amount of chocolate covered lollipops, to give to children… and those kinds of things, we can take to these refugee centers to help people just get through what they’re going through,” Johnson said.
Johnson isn’t the only Kodiak small business owner with Ukraine on their mind. Kim Piper owns a local printing shop called Kodiak Print Masters, and she says she’s selling blue shirts decorated with the Ukrainian coat of arms, and a sunflower on the shoulder to raise money for the relief effort.
“I think I’m like everybody, we just want to do something to help, and you feel frustrated because you can’t go and fight or you can’t go and save lives. So what can I do? I can print t-shirts to help the people that… I mean, they’re just so inspiring. They’re incredible,” Piper said.
She’s also got shirts that feature a famously profane slogan from the conflict: the reply of Ukrainian border guards to an approaching Russian warship.
At $20 apiece, she says 100% of the proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee.
Kodiak Print Masters is selling their shirts out of their Shelikof Street location 9-5, and people can donate supplies, clothes, food, and first-aid to Emerald Game House at 1117 Mill Bay Road, at the back of the Masonic Lodge from 11-6.