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Prince George doctor's support for Ukraine turning wood into weapons

Laurie Cook's makes tables, benches, beds and cutting boards out of slabs of wood and exchanges them for donations that help fund the Ukrainian military's war effort against the Russians

Laurie Cook wants to help Ukrainians win their war with Russia.

In March 2022, he started exchanging wood products he makes at his home in Prince George for donations that are sent directly to Ukraine to fund the war effort.

He’s turning wood into weapons.

The 74-year-old Prince George family physician uses his basement workshop to make dining room tables, benches, cutting boards, coffee tables, charcuterie serving boards and bed frames, which are then all sold by donation. The money is then sent to the Ukrainian government’s United 24 fundraising website.

“This money is getting sent straight to the Ukraine and straight to the military," said Cook. “If I donate to a Canadian-Ukrainian charity I get a nice tax receipt and the Canadian-Ukrainian charity sends blankets and water bottles off to Mr. Zelenskyy. The Russians are not that put off by water bottles and blankets and so I send the money to the website U-24.”

The website gives donors the choice of providing humanitarian, reconstruction or military aid.

Since going live on May 5, 2022, the site has raised more than US$528 million.

Cook and his wife Linda are well-known in the community for getting involved with the local nordic sking and cycling clubs and he works as a doctor at UHNBC. They have asked friends and colleagues to contribute to the cause to the point where they are tapped out and it’s time to expand his target market.

“I’ve saturated the market, I can’t get anything to buy more, so I need help,” said Cook.

He just wants to get the word out about his project and find more people willing to donate so they can own a piece of his handiwork. The table tops and cutting boards are made out of single slabs of wood and each piece is live-edged, left unfinished at the edges to retain the natural shapes of the trees from which they are cut.

“All the stuff I’m making is from Douglas fir or local birch and it’s all branded ‘Slava Ukraini' - glory to Ukraine,” said Cook.

“You could go to Wal-Mart and get this stuff cheaper, there’s no doubt about it, but t takes me time to make these things and so people have to realize they’ll be paying a little extra for something made here.”

His asking prices range from $200-300 for a cutting board, some of which have fancy inlays and are made from exotic hardwoods. The coffee tables are $500-750, benches are about $600, bedframes are $2,000 and a dining room table that comes with two benches costs $4,000.

Of course, if anybody wants to donate more than the asking price, Cook will certainly oblige.

He started the project in March 2022, about a month after the invasion began, and Prince George took in its first Ukrainian refugees soon after that.

“They are fighting my fight, Putin isn’t going to stop,” said Cook.

“I know that there are nasty things going on in many parts of the world, but Russia is on Europe’s doorstep.”

To contact Cook about his wood projects go to [email protected].

CIBC bank's Spruceland branch is transferring donations to Ukraine at no cost.