Meribel and Courchevel raise €65K for Ukraine

24th April 2022, by Abi Butcher

Volunteers in the 3 Vallées repair skiwear for donations. Pic: Gwilym Thomas

Volunteers in the 3 Vallées repair skiwear for donations. Pic: Gwilym Thomas

The Alpine communities of Meribel and Courchevel in France have joined forces to raise more than €65,000 in the past month for Ukraine refugees.

Church groups, schools, bars, restaurants and local businesses have collected food, clothing and medical supplies, as well as cash donations, for the Convoi d’Aide Alpin appeal set up by business owner Gavin Fernie Jones and the mayor of the French ski resorts.

The organisation’s Go Fund Me page explains: “We’ve chosen this moment because we know that local alpine companies have lots of surplus stock, like food, that they can’t hold over to next season.”

Lorries of aid have already been sent to Ukraine and next week, minibuses used during the ski season for resort transfers will be packed full of supplies and driven to Poland.

The not-for-profit initiative One Tree at a Time, started by Fernie Jones 18 months ago, carried out 400 repairs to skiwear in return for donations. Last weekend it held a “Fix It” event to repair clothing, sell secondhand ski gear and taught people how to knit.

One Tree At A time has a circular ski store in Bozel, just down the valley from Courchevel and Meribel. The store opened as a natural progression for the non-profit after repair and re-sell events were held at boot-fitting stores in Courchevel and Meribel owned by Gavin Fernie Jones.

“I’m blown away by the response from our community and can’t believe how generous everyone has been. If you’d predicted this outcome a month ago, I’m not sure I would have placed that bet. It’s been a huge honour to be involved,” said Gavin Fernie Jones.

“This project isn’t over — in fact it’s really only just begun. The Convoi d’Aide Alpin has shown us all what we’re capable of when we act together. Once the convoy has completed its mission later this month we will continue to work with our mountain community to support those in need.”

Meanwhile, the “circular” store in Bozel is funded by donations of “waste” uniforms from ski resort businesses operating in the Alps, which One Tree rejuvenates, patches over logos using waste fabric and then resells the garments, using the funds to employ the organisation’s team and pay for its retail space.

“Around 18 months ago we received a large donation of uniforms from Crystal Ski and have spent the past year getting as much of this uniform back out into the mountains as possible,” said Gavin. “We have just finished patching over a fleet of clothing that has gone into a ski shop called Whitestorm in both Courchevel and Meribel. We collected the clothing from a Crystal garage in the valley, it has been patched using a local team of seamstresses, fabric already in our community and is now available for rent in our backyard.

“We have converted waste into a usable product, with zero production emissions, minimal vehicle mileage and have a product being used in a circular rental model that will hopefully be reused hundreds of times.”

To find out how to donate or to get involved, visit Convoie d’Aide Alpin’s Go Fund Me page here.

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