Many people feel stuck watching tragedy strike other parts of the world, so far away that they cannot personally reach out. Of course, there are plenty of ways to help, from donating to reputable groups to offering to house refugees, but not everyone is in the position to help in a personal, front-lines sort of capacity.
But Martin Roberts was, and so Martin Roberts did.
Roberts, an English television presenter who is well-known for the show “Homes Under the Hammer” on BBC One, decided to take matters into his own hands this week.
Realizing the need was great, he decided to do something about it. Armed with determination and his presenting skills, he first headed to Costco to try to buy basic necessities for children and planned to drive them the 1,260 miles in his own van to the border of Ukraine and Poland.
Immediately, Roberts ran into some issues. He was able to purchase diapers, feminine products and medication — but there were limits on some items.
One is example is Calpol, a paracetamol and ibuprofen medication for children: limit two. Since he was making the purchase for a good cause, he thought the store might bend the rules, but it would not.
Thankfully, people in line behind him heard what was happening and started buying some of the limited items and donating them to him, but it was a rough start for Roberts, who’d hoped to be able to do much more.
After giving an emotional update on his attempt to stock up on supplies, things really started taking off. A charity in Bournemouth contacted him and asked if he’d be willing to deliver some of their supplies, and he accepted.
Roberts visited the massive distribution center, where a team loaded his van as full as it could of vital supplies and sent him off to Ukraine. He was as prepared as he could be, and he kept followers updated as he trekked along.
“So today is the day I go to the Ukrainian border,” he shared early on Monday. “I’m filled with purpose but a certain amount of trepidation. I’m sure I’m going to see things that break my heart. And I’m going just 20km away from where they bombed yesterday. But I have a job to do.”
“I’ve just had the chance to put toys in to the hands of children who have lost everything,” Roberts wrote later in the day. “This picture breaks my heart in to tiny pieces, but I wanted to share it to reassure you that from what I’ve seen today, all the donations and kindness IS making it to those who need it.”
In another update, he wrote, “1260 miles, 25 hours driving. Five countries. 427 wine gums. 8 large cans of red bull. An entire Spotify play list. An unbelievably kind and supportive mountain of encouragement from you and the main part of my mission is done. Just heading to the border with sleeping bags.”
Roberts concluded his three-day project by encouraging others to do whatever they can to help and linking to the group for which he delivered supplies.
“I’m not doing this for any other reason other than, you know, it’s just me wanting to do what I can,” he said in one of his videos. “And at the end of the day I’m, I’m — in this case, I’m not a celebrity, I’m a man with a van.”