PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A man with ties to the Portland area is making a difference for people affected by the war in Ukraine.
Christopher Tiller, 30, grew up in the Portland area and worked as a pilot in Nashville, Tenn.
When Russia began its attack on Ukraine, Tiller lept into action. He took a leave of absence from work, left the U.S. and headed to Poland where he planned to help displaced refugees.
Soon after he arrived, he bought a van and he and a friend began driving around Ukraine delivering things like food, medication and hygiene products to people.
He planned to stay for 3 weeks, but when the 3 weeks were up, he knew there was more to do. He built up a network of volunteers and aid organizations. Together, they pooled their resources and formed Renegade Relief Runners.
The non-profit has two main goals: to take pre-existing aid supplies from warehouses and get them to people who can use them, and to support frontline communities.
“One of the big projects is helping out with the drinking water crisis,” Tiller said. “So, the Ukrainians have mounted a counteroffensive down in the Kherson region, which has opened up a bunch of villages that have been recently liberated and it takes a long time for Western aid or aid organizations to get down there.”
He said his team is working to be an initial “strike force” that can be there when the cities open to make sure they have everything they need. Renegade Relief Runners supplies them with medicine, drinking water and food.
They’re currently fundraising for PAUL drinking water systems for these towns. Many drinking water systems have been contaminated by heavy metals and bacteria and these drinking water systems can provide 1,200 liters of water a day, enough for 400 or more people, for years to come.
Renegade Relief Runners is expanding rapidly and has volunteers all over the world. They recently became a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Anyone interested in supporting them can make a donation online.
If the war in Ukraine were to end tomorrow, Tiller said he’d like to see the non-profit shift its efforts toward helping rebuild Ukraine. He would want to help place soldiers in counseling and help them find jobs after the war.
He believes there’s a lot of good they could do in other parts of the world too.
“We’ve discussed it at some length, whether that would be in Southeast Asia helping out with drinking water projects or there are companies out there producing mobile field hospitals now for anything from combat-related injuries all the way down to just basic doctor visits and things like that,” Tiller said.
For now, he’s continuing to focus on distributing supplies. With winter around the corner, getting jackets, blankets and fuel to people is his next goal.