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Ukraine requites Cloquet kindness

A simple gesture saved a life.

But it’s a complicated story, beginning in Cloquet and covering the 5,000-mile trip to war-torn Ukraine, and then back to Cloquet. The story starts in 2022 and continues through 2024.

“My niece is a doctor in Ukraine and when the war started she called me and was in tears,” said Galyna Tuttle of Carlton, who grew up in Ukraine. “There had been an accident from an explosion and a 10-year-old boy was wounded by shrapnel. She said the wounds were deep, but they had no tourniquets to stop the bleeding so they wrapped it with a pillowcase. By the time he got to the hospital, he had lost so much blood that the doctors could not save him.”

Her niece was devastated and described the situation as chaos, they needed basic medical supplies.

“They weren’t prepared, hospitals didn’t have supplies,” explained Andrew Tuttle, Galyna’s husband. Through their nonprofit organization 11th Hour Ministries, the Tuttles started asking hospitals for donations of expired medical supplies that could still be useful in Ukraine.

Since early 2022, the Tuttles have donated lifesaving medical equipment, medication and medical supplies to individuals and hospitals in Ukraine. Many items have been difficult for Ukrainian hospitals to procure since the war began, including blood coagulation products and pain medications, burn gels, and first aid supplies for sealing wounds, such as gauze, syringes, adhesives and dressings, and tourniquets.

The couple has made two trips to Ukraine to make sure the donated supplies make it to the people who need them and do not get stolen and put on the black market. A planned third trip is coming later this summer.

“On our first trip we had 13 bags of supplies with us when we went to board our flight,” Andrew said. “But they didn’t let us get on the plane because of all of our bags, and so they sent us home and told us to come back the next day. Since we had to go back home, I decided to pack one more bag.”

Tuttle packed that 14th bag with all of the donated sutures destined to stitch wounds.

“I called it the ‘Jesus Bag’ because there had to be a reason why we didn’t make the plane that day,” he said. “That bag ended up being really critical, because we were able to send much-neededsupplies to the front lines for medics and help the outlying hospitals and clinics.”

The bags are large military-grade duffle bags, stuffed full of the donated supplies. Many of the donations came from Community Memorial Hospital and The Medicine Shoppe in Cloquet.

“For CMH, we’re glad to help and do what we can do,” said Chip Holter, CMH materiels management director. “It’s nice to donate supplies, so that they get used and are not thrown out and wasted. Even though things are outdated for use here, there is still another year of shelf life on these items, so it’s good that somebody gets to use them.”

Chief executive officer Rick Breuer agreed.

“CMH has a long history of donating supplies and other medical items for use in other parts of the world,” Breuer said. “We would expect that to continue, as the needs only seem to grow over time. Most of these instances are based on specific requests from agencies or individuals traveling to and working in these areas. We don’t maintain a relationship with any one organization to provide supplies. We potentially make the donations to any eligible group based on their need and our ability to meet that need.”

Galyna explained that during their first trip in May 2022, she went to the centrally located Cherkasy region of Ukraine. She described the doctors’ reaction when digging through the donated medical supplies as “like children on Christmas morning” opening presents. Excitement and energy filled the room.

Here is the part of the story where the impact of the donated supplies becomes real. And appreciated.

“On my second trip, I met Anastasia, an artist whose parents were both fighting in the war,” Galyna said. “Her father was wounded and one of the first aid trauma kits we had assembled from the donated supplies during our first trip was used to save her father by treating his wounds. She was very thankful, so she wanted to send her artwork in gratitude.”

Anastasia’s mother also sent a thank-you note to the Tuttles.

“She said the first aid kit saved her husband’s life,” Galyna said. “She wrote, ‘My kids have their father for Christmas. This is the best Christmas present my children could have, having their father being alive.’”

Supplies used to save his life came from Cloquet, packed in that “extra” 14th bag.

Galyna carried back Anastasia’s original drawing from Ukraine and the Tuttles framed the piece and presented it to staff at Community Memorial Hospital on June 11.

“We normally do receive an acknowledgement and thanks from recipients of donated supplies,” Breuer said. “I can’t ever remember a gift like this having been received. An individual going out of her way to share something of herself, an expression of her talent and heart, means the world to us.”

When asked what he would say to Anastasia, Breuer said, “First of all, I would say that we gain great joy out of the act of giving, especially towards a cause and need as great and noble as this. That being said, her gift is special to us. It will be a permanent reminder for us of this war, this crisis, but also the beauty and strength of Ukraine and its people.”

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11th Hour Ministries

Based in Carlton, 11th Hour Ministries’ mission is to help people who face monumental hurdles in order to succeed in life. Andy and Galyna Tuttle started the nonprofit organization to reach the widows and orphans in Ukraine. Galyna was born and raised in the Ukraine and the couple maintains deep ties to the region.

The ministry is currently providing things such as lifesaving medical supplies, food, and diapers to people in regions of Ukraine. The team’s efforts provide people with necessities required to survive as they endure the ravages of war in the country.

Through in-person deliveries during mission trips with shipments and messages, the Tuttles understand the trials people face in Ukraine. A statement on the organization’s website states: “Reaching the lost by showing the love of Jesus to the people of Ukraine is always on their hearts.”

“Setting aside all of the politics that goes on, we’re helping people,” said Andrew Tuttle. “We have volunteers that work with us both here and there. It’s a huge thing for us to take the donated supplies and make sure they get to clinics and hospitals.”

Prior to the war in Ukraine, 11th Hour Ministries focused on meeting the needs of the widows and orphans in Ukraine and Kenya. Many orphans in Ukraine age out of the state-run system and end up getting involved in drugs and prostitution to survive. The Tuttles have seen many horrific examples of what happens to these lost orphans and attempt to balance them out with positive stories and successful outcomes. The couple provides the orphans and widows life skills training, gospel messages, and basic resources to survive without having to turn down dangerous paths.

For more information, or to support 11th Hour Ministries through donations, please see the website at 11thhourministry.com or P.O Box 606, Carlton MN 55718.

— Pine Knot News

 
 
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