Boxes of Hope, a humanitarian aid charity that was established to send food, clothing, medicine and other essential items to the people of Ukraine following the country’s invasion by Russia, has taken delivery of a vinyl-wrapped forklift truck donated free-of-charge by Toyota Material Handling (TMH) UK Ltd.
The forklift – a 2.5 tonne diesel-powered counterbalance model from the Toyota Approved Used fleet – has been vinyl-wrapped in the Boxes of Hope branding and will improve handling efficiency as well as the wellbeing of Boxes of Hope’s volunteer staff by reducing the charity’s reliance on manual handling at its national pick-up and distribution centre in Lincolnshire. The vinyl-wrapping for the truck was supplied by Bott Ltd.
Boxes of Hope’s founder and director, Mandy Baxter, says: “The truck has made a huge difference to the way that we work. It has allowed us to completely change the layout of our store thanks to the fact that we are now able to move items around the facility safely, quickly and easily. Of course, lorry loading has become a faster and simpler process too and, what’s more, we are now able to make full use of every vehicle’s load capacity – which means we can get more of the things that are so desperately needed to the people of Ukraine.
“It now takes about a third of the time to load a truck than it was taking to do the job manually, so the volunteers that were previously required to help with the loading process can focus on other tasks and, as a result, we are able to make optimum use of the time that they so kindly give us.
“Companies big and small have been very supportive,” says Mandy Baxter. “For example, our warehouse is a former garden centre unit and the owner is not charging us to use it. He originally agreed that we could stay for three months but we’re still here nearly a year later! And we are working closely with a number of local and international logistics companies who not only transport aid from donation centres and individual donors throughout the region to our warehouse, but also provide the lorries and drivers needed to deliver the aid from England to Ukraine.
“My visits to Ukraine have changed my life – I will never forget the look on the faces of the soldiers that I met at Lviv military hospital. They had experienced things that nobody should go through, and you could see it in their eyes.”
So far, the charity has sent 16 lorries, each containing some 18 tonnes of crucial supplies to Ukraine and Mandy Baxter has made several trips to the war-torn country herself to personally oversee delivery of the aid.
The business community has been quick to get behind Boxes of Hope’s campaign, with the charity liaising with other aid organisations based in Ukraine to ensure that the support they provide is targeted to the regions where it is needed most. The charity lists items – which can be anything from wheelchairs to 4×4 vehicle tyres – that it has in stock on a live online inventory system. The inventory data can be accessed by various Ukraine-based partner organisations, that request the goods that are urgently required, such as medical or first-aid products, so they can be included on the next outgoing vehicle.
Toyota were initially approached about Boxes of Hope’s urgent need for a truck by a former TMH UK employee. Amanda Rodgers, TMH UK’s Used & Trade Operations Manager, explains: “I received a call out of the blue from an ex-colleague who described what Boxes of Hope are doing and how having a forklift would help them to process even more vital supplies bound for Ukraine.”
Rodgers then contacted Mandy Baxter and, after visiting Boxes of Hopes’ site in Spalding, it was quickly agreed that Toyota would not only supply the truck at no cost but also provide complimentary ongoing service and maintenance support.
Toyota Material Handling says supporting projects such as Boxes of Hope is a cornerstone of its corporate sustainability strategy as “a sustainable company engages in business practices that are good for people and Toyota’s approach to sustainability aims to make a difference to the wellbeing of those who are less fortunate than others,” according to Rodgers.
Baxter concludes: “We are very grateful to Toyota for everything they are doing to support our work. Having a forklift allows us to operate far more efficiently and, ultimately, lets us send more aid to the people of Ukraine. We would also like to thank Bott Ltd for their contribution.”