Vlad Denko, a LexJet customer from Ukraine, currently living in Corning, New York, recently turned his print shop into a tool for Ukraine as it battles the Russian invasion. By printing and selling pro-Ukrainian stickers, Denko is donating all the money to support the Ukrainian troops fighting to defend their homeland.
At LexJet, we’re always looking for ways to support our customers. So, we caught up with Vlad to learn more about what he’s doing to make a difference from so far away and better understand how we can help.
LexJet – How are your friends and family back home?
Vlad – So far, none of my immediate family or friends that I personally know were hurt. But at the same time, I cannot state that everyone is safe down there. Some of them are sitting in the suburbs of Kyiv and making Molotov cocktails. Most of my and my wife’s family are in western Ukraine, which is a more or less safe area, but at the same time, we realize it’s only 10 minutes away from a missile flight.
LexJet – How are you holding up? Are you able to communicate with those back home?
Vlad – We’re more or less okay. I believe the fact that we are busy with fundraising and making stickers keeps our minds occupied, otherwise we would probably go crazy just thinking about all of this. Whenever I have a free minute, I just turn on the Ukrainian live stream news, put on the headphones, and listen to what’s happening there. Fortunately, the internet is working well there, and we can communicate with our relatives. I usually call my dad twice a day at least.
LexJet – Why did you start this campaign?
Vlad – Well, first of all, like every single Ukrainian that lives outside of Ukraine, I wanted to do at least something for my homeland. My first thought was to take all the available money we have and send it over. Shortly after the war started, I started getting dozens of messages from my clients and friends who live here in America, letting me know that they think about us and our family and offering help. So, I started researching how we can financially help Ukraine, looking at different charities, funds, and campaigns. I figured out that the foundation called “Come Back Alive” is one of the most established and effective. It has been running since 2014 and has an excellent reporting history. The QR link to the website is constantly posted on every Ukrainian national television at the time. The only problem is that if you’re donating from other countries, you have to go to the bank and make an international SWIFT transaction which costs from $40 to $75 and takes about an hour to do. So, I realized that most people wouldn’t be able to do that stuff, so I started thinking about how we can collect funds from people who want to help and transfer them to Ukraine. Since we are printmakers, we have an established website that we use for print orders, and it took me literally 5 minutes to set it up with a separate gallery. After that, I called a friend of mine, Vitaliy, who lives and works as a designer in Ukraine, and asked him if he could make me a handful of designs. His answer was, “Once I get out of the bomb shelter and if my home is not destroyed, I’ll be happy to help.” So, he did some of the signs, and I did the others, and in a couple of hours, we had the page up and running. I started sending the link to those who were previously over to help, and then it took off from there.
LexJet – What has been the response so far?
Vlad – It’s exceeded all my expectations by far. In the first five days of the campaign, we raised $10,000. When the local TV station heard about it, they called me and asked if they could do a story. Since it aired, my phone has been ringing non-stop. People were asking if they could come over and buy some stickers and support Ukrainian soldiers. At one point, we had vehicles lined up on our street. People have been sending mail letters with checks. A number of local businesses reached out to us, asking if they could buy stickers in bulk and donate in return.
LexJet – Where can people go to buy your stickers?
Vlad – You can buy these stickers on my website here.
LexJet – What does the money support?
Vlad – All proceeds, not just profits, go to “Come Back Alive.” This fund specifically supports Ukrainian soldiers by providing them with everything but weapons. Helmets, boots, body armor, first aid kits, night vision devices, etc. Everything that can keep a soldier alive so he can return to his family.
Also, people can go to this link and see all the financial information about the fundraiser. We want to be transparent and financially responsible for every dollar we receive.
LexJet – Besides buying your stickers, how else can people help the people of Ukraine?
Vlad – The most important thing is that people are talking about it and letting others know that they are aware, and they are concerned and that they support Ukraine. Both offline, by having a sticker on their car, using it as a conversation starter, and most importantly, online! We all know how social media algorithms work and that politics, both local and national, follow the trends and get constant reports about what people are buzzing around. So, every time somebody mentions on Facebook that they support Ukraine and it’s not acceptable what Russia is doing, it’s accumulating somewhere and putting extra pressure on those who make important decisions in our country.
LexJet – What does this show of support mean to you?
Vlad – Probably, to say that it means the world to me would be to say nothing. I’m flattered but, at the same time, not surprised with the amount of support that I’m getting from fellow Americans. This nation has a long history of helping those who are in need. It is good to know that people worldwide feel responsible and have the urge to help others.
LexJet – What printer did you use?
Vlad – For this specific project, I’m using my true workhorse, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 (the current model is Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100). Who would have known five years ago when I was buying it from LexJet that it would be printing stickers to save Ukrainian soldiers!
LexJet – What material did you use?
Vlad – I am printing them on LexJet Extreme Aqua Vinyl™ w/PSA. LexJet provides the color profiles which create an excellent color match. After I print a 24×36 sheet, I let it dry for a few minutes, laminate it, and then cut the individual stickers out with a straight edge and Rotatrim Cutter. I’m thankful to LexJet, Canon, and everyone who is buying the stickers for their support.