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The Midnight Flight

A Local Effort to Aid Ukraine

Published in the September 2022 Issue Published online: Sep 11, 2022 Health & Wellness
Viewed 2889 time(s)


DAYS AFTER THE WAR BROKE OUT IN UKRAINE, Melaleuca Executive Chairman Frank Vandersloot learned about a time-sensitive opportunity to help wounded soldiers in Ukraine. He was immediately on the phone. It was Saturday night, and there were only a few hours left to take advantage of the opportunity. Frank directed his staff to round up emergency room and first aid supplies for Ukraine. They got to work. Two Melaleuca staffers, Isaac Bottelberghe and Tony Lima, have learned to move when Frank wants something to happen. Even so, they couldn’t help but wonder how to pull it off in time.

Frank had learned that a U.S. Airman from Idaho Falls was set to deploy from an airbase in just a few hours with clearance to transport up to 2,000 lbs. of relief supplies in a cargo plane. The Airman’s wife, Svitlana Miller, who was born in Ukraine, was racing against the clock to get needed supplies for her people. Time was of the essence.

Melaleuca’s first action was to donate a variety of emergency supplies from its Idaho Falls warehouse. Isaac immediately filled a truck with first aid products and delivered them to Svitlana’s home. Simultaneously, Tony started making calls to area hospitals. Within two hours of these phone calls, each hospital that Melaleuca contacted not only responded but delivered high-quality emergency room supplies to a drop-off location in Idaho Falls. All involved were eager to do their part to get the supplies to Ukraine. It didn’t matter that it was a Saturday night. What they were doing was important to them. “Their response was sincere, immediate and generous,” Frank said about the hospitals who donated supplies. “This is yet another example that demonstrates how our community comes together to do good where good is needed.”

Those involved in relief efforts that night included Melaleuca, Mountain View Hospital, Idaho Falls Community Hospital, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Intermountain Anesthesia and Bingham Memorial.

Brian Ziel, Marketing Director for Mountain View Hospital and Idaho Falls Community Hospital, was one of the people who got a call from Melaleuca. He didn’t hesitate for a minute.

“We were so excited to be involved,” he said. “I reached out to my team immediately and they were all on board. We were able to donate a number of supplies, including bandages, medications, ice packs, surgical gloves and other surgical supplies.”

When they took the supplies to Svitlana’s home, she was overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion for the generous offer of support to her home country.

“It was incredible dropping off those supplies and seeing the look on Svitlana’s face when she saw them,” Brian said. “We were all honored to be a part of it.”

In the end, the group of donors provided tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of trauma-grade medical supplies to Ukraine. The supplies made it to Europe—on time—and a covert effort saw them transported safely to Ukraine where they were delivered to a military hospital. Countless individuals and families have been served with these supplies.


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