Mark J. Lindquist, an Air Force veteran and former candidate for Congress, is making his own Christmas season quite uncomfortable as a way of raising aid to Ukraine.
Lindquist is in the midst of what he calls “Operation: Sleep Out,” a challenge to sleep outdoors in the freezing cold of Fargo, North Dakota, for 17 days. His hope is to raise money and supplies to send to Ukraine as temperatures are plummeting and conditions are worsening as the country fights off a Russian invasion.
Operation: SLEEP OUT 🥶 commences in FARGO, ND as a US Air Force veteran winter camps outdoors in December in solidarity with my Ukrainian battle buddies in a trench in the Donbas. Come learn how to support Ukrainians this winter! #OperationSleepOut #Ukraine #mrbeast #joerogan pic.twitter.com/saSiI6JoHH
— Mark J. Lindquist (@MarkJLindquist) December 15, 2022
“Even though gas prices are high, even though everyone is thinking about inflation, there are people that always are in situations that could use your help or maybe are worse off than you,” Lindquist said in an interview with the Daily Caller. Lindquist began the campout on Friday, Dec. 16 and will continue into the New Year.
Lindquist said the idea for the PR campaign began out of a desire to express solidarity, which is important to him as an Air Force veteran. “I now meet guys and talk to guys who are laying in trenches in the Donbas all the time,” he said. “And it’s this snowy, winter mix all the time, sleet and rain, and you go live out in a trench for five months without enough layers to keep you warm. And so that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to collect enough layers so that they can put it under their camouflage.”
He also mentioned the plight of refugees who fled Ukraine in the spring and summer when the war began but may not have been able to pack winter supplies in their haste.
Lindquist didn’t just begin his pro-Ukraine activism this month. Earlier this year, he was running in the Democratic primary for Congress in Minnesota’s 7th district, but dropped out of the race to travel to Ukraine with hopes of joining the war effort there. After quickly realizing his help would be more useful gathering and distributing humanitarian aid than fighting on the front lines, he’s spent most of the past year doing just that.
After arriving in Ukraine, he’s worked to funnel aid from the rest of the world to Ukraine straight to the people who need it. From winter coats to food to medicine, Lindquist’s organization has made numerous deliveries of aid to within one mile of the frontline of the way. Much of this occurred while he was in Ukraine, but he’s continuing his work now that he’s back in Fargo.
“It’s the same cause of freedom that I signed up for. So, although it may not be for citizens of my country, it certainly is the same principle,” he said when asked why this cause in particular moved him so much. “When I saw what was happening in Ukraine, I said ‘Well goodness, these people are fighting for the same thing I raised my hand to defend.'”
He said that while Americans certainly have their own problems to deal with, it only takes a small amount of time or money to make a significant impact for people who are, in most cases, struggling more. If certain people still don’t care, he said, that’s alright, because most Americans do. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: 11-Year-Old Girl Shot In The Face By Russian Soldier Crosses Into Poland)
“Look at the compelling photos of the civilian infrastructure bombed, and I hope that moves you to some sort of action,” he told the Daily Caller. “If the history of our spending, and the history of our nation, and the current photos we see day by day doesn’t compel you, then you just aren’t going to support Ukraine and I’ll move on to the ones who will.”
The most interesting and rewarding part of the experience, he said, was making friends in Ukraine he still speaks to today. Those people suffering at the hands of Russian aggression and brutal elements could just as easily be the friends, coworkers or family members Americans have back home, he said.
“It’s a hard thing for me to see when I know Ukrainians that are freezing to death right now, and getting hit by artillery shells and losing their legs, for people to say ‘why do we need to help people over there when we have so much needed here,'” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me that we’re not more charitable than that.”
Donations can be made to Lindquist’s charitable organization, The “A-Team:” Ukraine, at his website.