Volunteers and IT: How does it work?

IT specialists provide money, expertise, and military service — everything they can do to help the country win. For instance, ELEKS’s IT specialists did self-organize on the very first day of the full-scale invasion and became volunteers.

An ambulance with Swedish volunteers hit the company specialist’s car in Poland, and this was the start of a charity project. The guys from the Chicago office acting as volunteers met a Vietnam veteran who offered to sell them ammunition without margin. Ukrainian professionals organize charitable auctions and corporate events in Lviv, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankivsk.

Our joint project with ELEKS is dedicated to different volunteership trends of the company and the circumstances in which the company managed to create a powerful and continuous movement towards the common victory.

Help to the military


Petro Konovalov:
“We want to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine systematically”

ELEKS has supported the Ukrainian army since 2014. Working for the benefit of the nation is one of the leading company’s values. During the very first days of the full-scale war, the ELEKS office in Lviv accumulated tonnes of humanitarian aid. It came from Poland and other European countries.

“We were unloading trucks and dividing the aid among needy people. At that point we realized that we want to help the Armed Forces systematically,” said Petro Konovalov, Board Member at ELEKS, Chief at Doctor Eleks, and Coordinator of the Help Ukraine volunteer group.

Since then, the company has worked on several volunteer activities:

Technical and financial aid

ELEKS provides the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) with software and hardware, cars and drones, etc. In addition, the company established a monthly budget for donations to charity funds and directly to the UAF. The company’s financial aid for the past eight months is over $2.9 million.

Volunteer community

The company reps created a chat that now has about 400 specialists. The Ukrainian part of the team collects the requests, and their American and European colleagues help to find, purchase, and send the stuff to Ukraine. By doing so, IT guys managed to import over $1.3 mln in cars and military equipment after the invasion.

Help Ukraine Workgroup

It is a group of ELEKS workers who help specific soldiers. Over 50 of its colleagues joined the UAF. They are fully equipped: from the bulletproof vests and helmets to the high-quality medical kits.

“The money is important because the Ministry of Defense can use the donations to cover actual needs quickly. For example, to pay out soldier salaries,” Petro explained.

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“When we equipped our guys, we got more requests. For example, some specialists sought something for their relatives and friends who went to the front. Or we had to purchase the equipment for other guys who served in the same unit as our guys. That’s why we broadened the focus of our attention to help them, too,” Petro said.

He emphasized the direct collaboration between the volunteer group and military officers. It’s crucial to purchase only the required things; such help is practical. For the last eight months, the company spent about $1.2 on drones, thermal imaging cameras, night-vision devices, walkie-talkies, satellite radio devices, turrets, cars, and cargo vans.

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In March, Petro spent 75-80 % of his time volunteering: he had to establish social connections and build routines. But, thanks to the experience and process optimization, now only 60 to 90 minutes are spent on daily coordination.

“The organizational part of our work is not so difficult because we already know what and where to find and buy and how to bring it here. But it is always hard to speak with soldiers who recently came back from the battlefield. However, the more we communicate, the more we want to help them,” Petro added.

Svitlana Yurchuk:
“We processed over 750 direct requests from our soldiers”

Svitlana Yurchuk, HR Manager at ELEKS, worked with Petro in the Help Ukraine administrative team. She recalls how she met the big war with a broken clavicle. It was hard to go into a bunker with a bandage, so Svitlana went to Poland on February 25.

“I was struggling to decide whether to leave Ukraine because I wanted to help bring our victory closer. Then I thought about the front where I personally would be effective. So, on February 26, when the ELEKS volunteer group was founded, I joined it, too,” she said.

Svitlana created a work chat, and 20 of her colleagues joined it. They processed requests and researched needed goods. In the beginning, it was a mess — everyone did everything. Then the responsibilities were split into categories: collecting requests, searching for goods, purchases, logistics, distribution, accounting and finances. Usually, Svitlana approves a monthly budget with the management and keeps records of payments.

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She said medical kits, bulletproof vests, and helmets were among the first requests. There was a shortage of them in Ukraine, so they searched for the stuff abroad. With time, the volunteers decided to specialize themselves for better efficiency.

So the main point became tactical aid:

Small things:

knee pads
modular vests
load-carrying vests


medical kits


thermal imaging cameras

Also, there were requests for fuel generators, solar panels, and starlinks — all purchased and delivered to the frontline.

“Any ELEKSer can make a request. Then, to validate it, we contact specific soldiers and agree on all the details with them. For the last eight months, we processed over 750 direct requests,” added Svitlana.

She also said that the volunteer group acquired regular suppliers. In Ukraine, they buy everything they can find. The rest comes from proven manufacturers from Poland, the USA, and other countries. The purchase list is edited based on soldiers’ feedback. For example, they purchased tactical glasses from a Dutch and an American manufacturer for further comparison in a military unit. As a result, they chose the Dutch one. It’s better despite the lower price and is faster to get with all the logistics and delivery routes.

Initially, the warriors needed helmets, medical kits, and tourniquets. Now such requests are rare. The autumn came with rains, so raincoats and fleece clothing were in demand then. Now, the UAF are preparing themselves for the winter and search for sleeping bags and pads. Some things are always welcome, e.g., drones.

“People make jokes about us, volunteers, that we could find a unicorn in 15 minutes. It is true. We are united and always ready to help. We wish to see our fighters home alive, and we are happy that our tourniquets, modular vests, and drones rescue their lives and bring our victory closer,” Svitlana emphasized.

At the same time, the management understands that in the future, the volunteership can change its focus. As for now, there is an increasing demand for soldier rehabilitation. There is also a lot to be rebuilt — an immense amount of work. Svitlana mentioned that ELEKS would fulfill various requests and directions of aid to contribute to the overall victory permanently.

Humanitarian aid


Oksana Bryndzak:
“During the first two months, we just unloaded trucks, made nets, and cooked energy bars”

The Employee Relations Specialist at ELEKS, Oksana Bryndzak, is an experienced volunteer. Seven years ago, she began to help with event organization, e.g., Publisher Forum. After that, she joined the BUR NGO and worked on social and educational projects. Sometime later, she launched her own platforms for helping older people — the Enjoying Aging NGO (Ukr. Старість НА радість) and the Vbrani social enterprise.

“On the morning of February 24, I went to the volunteer kitchen in Prosvity Street in Lviv. That whole day I spent peeling garlic. I had to apply myself to something and accept a new reality. In that kitchen, I met several friends who asked why I was there. They said I must do what I can do best — unite people,” Oksana remembered.

So, on February 25, she went to the ELEKS office. There already was a shelter for colleagues and their families from other Ukrainian cities. Oksana decided to be a coordinator: she helped displaced persons to settle down in the city and receive humanitarian aid from Poland and other countries.

On February 28, she created Telegram chats: Humanitarian Aid for volunteers who helped by unloading the buses and Autohelp for people who could help with logistics.

Then, on March 1 and 2, in the ELEKS office, Oksana and her colleagues launched an open space where people made camouflage nets. Every day, 15-20 people worked there. These were IT specialists, their family members and friends. They brought raw materials — T-shirts and sleeveless shirts — and worked there from 10 o’clock till curfew.

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“Simultaneously, I coordinated another project — energy bar production for the military. A friend of mine made them, and I helped her find volunteers for her kitchen. The guys from the Autohelp chat provided us with the required ingredients on a daily basis,” Oksana said.

And the office “base” continued receiving foreign humanitarian aid. Several times, trucks full of food and hygienic items arrived between 2 and 3 a.m. So they had to rapidly coordinate people who lived in the office shelter and could unload the trucks.

“During the first two months, we just made nets, unloaded trucks, and cooked energy bars which were immediately sent to the frontline. Since the end of May, our physical activity has decreased, so we don’t need to work manually every day. But we continue financing the energy bar manufacturing,” Oksana mentioned.

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The ELEKS Team organized many charitable events in Lviv, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankivsk. Over 250 ELEKS specialists participated. One of the last events was a charitable auction. It had 80 lots handcrafted by the company specialists: paintings, ceramics, fancyworks, bead embellishments, etc. There also were non-tangible lots, e.g., a culinary master class or a running training session. This auction resulted in ₴271,000 in donations. All money was transferred to the Come Back Alive Charity Fund for purchasing mobile surveillance units for the UAF. Moreover, during the event, the ELEKS specialists made 10 nets and over 500 energy bars for the military.

“The most difficult thing in volunteering is not to burn out. Even here, far from the battlefields, it is vital to maintain mental health. ELEKS has a Psychological Center. Its professional psychologists support our specialists and their families, do regular lessons, etc., preventing exhaustion,” Oksana underlined.

Nataliya Starak:
“We made and distributed over 3,600 food packages”

When the full-scale war began, Language School Manager at ELEKS, Nataliya Starak, went to her father in Poland with her daughter, niece, and dog. In March 2022, her father’s car was accidentally hit by an ambulance car with a Swedish registration plate. Two women were inside; the man understood only the word “Ukraine” and asked Nataliya to speak with them.

“It appeared they were volunteers from Sweden. They knew what was happening at the Ukrainian-Polish border and rushed out of their homes to help the refugees. Some people had only a few bags in their hands and didn’t know what to do next. So, they needed everything,” Nataliya explained.

The language barrier was the biggest problem for Swedish volunteers. The Ukrainians very often don’t speak English. At that very car park, Nataliya had to work as an interpreter for the first time in her life; she talked to a Ukrainian family over the phone, explaining everything to the Swedes.

The next day, she met the rest of the Swedish team and joined the volunteers. Together they visited refugee camps in Poland and distributed food, meds, essential goods, and toys for kids.

The volunteer group has also organized shuttle buses from Przemyśl to Stockholm. Nataliya informed people in camps and shelters about shuttle transfers and helped with bus departure from Poland. In total, they made 57 tours with 2,234 people on board.

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After that, the volunteer team founded the OperationAid organization. However, the refugee flow has significantly decreased since mid-May, so Nataliya returned home in June. She started to help internally displaced Ukrainians who lost everything due to shellings.

“We at OperationAid launched Food Boxes — food packages for victims of the Russian aggression. For this purpose, we raise funds in Sweden. Then, our teammate purchases groceries in Poland. He possesses a campus that was transformed into a refugee shelter this spring. He and shelter inhabitants, women and children, pack the food. There are 19 different items: grains, canned food, coffee, sweets, etc.,” Nataliya told us.

Next, the volunteers deliver the boxes to Lviv. And from Lviv, they are distributed through towns and villages in the Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Mykolayiv regions. Since July, they have distributed 3,608 packages.

This summer, OperationAid began to support shelters in Ukraine. They purchased and delivered home electronics: fridges and washing machines, to make them more comfortable.

Recently, Nataliya launched a new project — Woman Care Kits. It is an opaque black bag with eleven hygienic items: a toothbrush and toothpaste, a shampoo, a body wash, a razor, a hand cream, and toiletries for women. And a pack of cookies and candle in addition — for better mood and coziness. The volunteers give them away together with food boxes.

“I decided to buy everything for Woman Care Kits only from Ukrainian manufacturers. I want to support local businesses and spend donated funds in Ukraine. So, the bags are sewed in Kharkiv and printed out in Lviv,” Nataliya shared.

As for now, over 200 bags have already found their holders in the liberated territories. Moreover, ten bags will be sent to Swedish influencers to promote the project on social media and raise extra funds for new kits.

Nataliya has many plans: launching Kid Kits and Christmas Gift Boxes. The latter will include fast-moving consumer goods, cleaning and construction articles because residents of the liberated villages are rebuilding their houses and often feel a lack of film, for example, to cover broken windows and roof holes. So now, OperationAid seeks sponsors for this project and negotiates with Swedish manufacturers.

“Our goal is to help those who need it. In Poland, I saw volunteers from 12 different countries who came to make their contribution to the common goal. They were not obliged to come, but they did. So, I cannot stay aside either,” Nataliya emphasized.

Volunteering abroad


Vitaliy Tabaka:
“We buy equipment at 30-40% lower prices”

Vitaliy Tabaka, a Senior Software Developer at ELEKS, has lived and worked in Chicago since 2021.

“On February 24, we were shocked like all Ukrainians and followed the news the whole day. During the next two days, we cooperated with other specialists from the Chicago office and purchased vests and helmets. We learned about local volunteers who founded a charity fund and sent them goods for Ukraine,” Vitaliy said.

Then, Vitaliy and two of his ELEKS colleagues decided to help not via funds, but directly. For example, they helped Ukrainian specialists who joined the army. That’s how they started to ask friends who flew to Ukraine to take suitcases with the required stuff on board.

“We also offered our Ukrainian colleagues to come to Chicago, if possible, and take some bags with goods for guys in Ukraine. And people took 50 to 60 suitcases at once. Our record was 92 suitcases,” he recalled.

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According to Vitaliy, even despite the complicated logistics in the USA, it’s advantageous to purchase military equipment directly in America. For example, the same bulletproof vest costs $500-600 in the US and about $1000 in Europe. Even with delivery costs of $100 per unit, the end price is 30-40% less. The same situation is with other items like drones, thermal imaging cameras, military clothing, medical kits, and personal protection.

To help more and better, ELEKS professionals cooperate with other volunteers in Ukraine. They order items in America, Vitaliy and his teammates send them to Lviv, and locals resend them to the regions of Ukraine.

“For the first few months, we mostly purchased vests and helmets. Now we are focused on winterwear, heating devices, and sleeping bags. Nevertheless, drones, thermal imaging cameras, and scopes are always on the list. All that is costly, so we need some time to collect money. Recently, we sent 10 scopes $5K each,” Vitaliy continued.

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He said that many people in the USA know so little about Ukraine, but they still visit pro-Ukrainian demonstrations, support, and help us. If Americans hear the purchase is for Ukraine, they usually make a discount. A sales manager sometimes says: “I can’t make a discount, but we can process your order in another state where the tax is lower.

”Later on, Vitaliy’s friend in Chicago attended tactical medicine training and met a Vietnam war veteran. He also supported Ukrainians. So now, our volunteers buy almost all the equipment from him. The veteran has his dealer margin and sells it at a cost price.

“We always feel international support. Our American partners and customers aren’t indifferent, either: they always wonder how we are doing and make donations. The volunteership unites people,” Vitaliy resumed.

Medical volunteership


Olha Klok:
“We purchased medical kits for ₴3 mln”

“I began volunteering a long time ago. For the last ten years, I helped those who cannot help themselves — children with serious illnesses, older people, and homeless animals. But after February 24, I changed my focus: I started to aid our soldiers,” said Olha Klok, Customer Success Director at ELEKS.

During the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion, she contacted her relative, a paramedic in Romania. As a result, she organized the delivery of unique meds and military equipment. For this, she was personally honored by the company commander and got a colorful printed document that you can now see at the entrance of the ELEKS office in Lviv.

After that, Olha decided to concentrate on medical kits with certified tourniquets. In February, they were still available in Ukraine, but the next month and months after, they became harder to find, and the volunteers decided to import them.

To avoid Chinese fakes that could cost Ukrainian warriors their lives, Olha teamed up with colleagues to check manufacturers and various delivery options. They spent about a month trying to find an optimal supplier. And now they buy wholesale from the USA — they have an established process and expected result. The logistics issues are partly solved by Vitaliy Tabaka, ELEKS professional from Chicago.

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If there is any supply delay within the US, Olha manually fills the kits up with items bought wholesale.

“For the last eight months, we bought several thousands of medkits for over ₴3 mln. Now I can recognize them in pictures and videos sent by soldiers from all directions of our long frontline. I got many messages from them confirming that our kits saved a hand, a leg or even someone’s life. Is there anything more important?” Olha said.

After the first personal honor, Olha got some more, in particular one from Kyrylo Budanov, the Chief of the Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

Another volunteer activity concerns communication with foreign partners, friends, and acquaintances. Olha confirms that everybody is interested in what is happening in Ukraine. People usually ask her what else they could help with and seek advice on how to communicate about the war within their enterprises.

“I often have business trips, meet customers, and participate in conferences. I always try to convince our clients that the most efficient help for us would be more orders and the continuation of our successful cooperation. I invite them to visit Ukraine after the victory. I truly believe they will admire it,” Olha stated.

Nowadays, she works in directions with the highest demands, both on battlefields and in peaceful regions. And after Ukraine wins this war, Olha will contribute to its renewal. She dreams of Ukraine as a productive, business-attractive, and innovative country. Of course, it all needs mature and conscientious civil society. And the volunteers do a lot for its formation.

ELEKS is a global software-developing and consulting service company. It has 18 offices in 13 countries on three continents, including Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Estonia, Croatia, the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada, Japan, and the UAE. ELEKS belongs to the Global TOP 100 Outsourcing Companies.

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