For Alex Ray, altruisim is a common theme

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 05-01-2023 5:53 PM

Alex Ray feeds lots of people, both in the Granite State and a war zone thousands of miles away.

He’s the founder and owner of a restaurant juggernaut in New Hampshire, building a chain of establishments that’s most commonly referred to as the Common Man restaurants.

Highly successful since opening his first franchise in Ashland 52 years ago, Ray continues to spread his wealth, this time helping to fund a program called Common Man for Ukraine that sends food and clothing and other supplies to orphans and children in Ukraine, which has been trying to push Russian forces off its eastern front in a bloody war that began 15 months ago.

More than that, Ray sometimes hops aboard a cargo plane and chaperones the supplies personally. He’s already made the trip to Ukraine four times, and there’s no end in sight.

“We as Americans want to support the humanitarian end of what is happening over there,” Ray said recently. “Our group makes us feel good that we are doing the right thing, and that (the orphans) get (supplies).”

As part of the effort, Ray will be joined by former Gov. John Lynch at a Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce breakfast on May 16 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Grappone Conference Center, for an event called Concord Connects to Impact Ukrainian Youth. 

Ray and Lynch will discuss how local businesses can aid global humanitarian causes thousands of miles away through creative partnerships and connections.

“We consider what’s happening to these children of war to be our business. And, together, we’ve done some good to help them,” said Ray. “But there’s more good to do and Concord’s business community has the opportunity to play a vital role in improving their lives in a meaningful way.”

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Ray has traveled down this altruistic path before. He paid to fix up a large empty house a few years ago in Plymouth to house those dealing with addiction problems.

The four trips to Ukraine have involved a little more risk. Thousands of civilians have already died in the war.

“We drive around to 20 orphanages for moms and kids who want to leave,” Ray said. “We feed them when we can. ”

Ray has partners in this ongoing project. Local Rotarians and those abroad have assisted, led by Poland’s membership, which had an influx of nearly three million refugees spilling over its border.

To date, Ray and Rotarian volunteers have flown 750 tons of food to organizations and displaced orphans. They’ve delivered thousands of sleeping bags, plus generators, food, clothing, and medicine, and supported mental health treatment and a trauma center for emotionally scarred individuals.

Its logo has helped the Common Man franchise: a farmer working in his field, pushing and leaning hard on a tiller to prepare the soil for planting, portraying a hard working New Englander. That appeals to Granite Staters who identify with the stoic work ethic portrayed in the image.

How to help

Donations to the Common Man for Ukraine can be given online  at commonmanforukraine.org/donate, or by texting COMMONMAN to 53555. Checks are accepted and should be mailed to Common Man for Ukraine, 71 Main Street, Plymouth.

To attend the May 16 fundraiser, go to my.concordnhchamber.com/event-calendar

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