For the third consecutive year, volunteers of Saint Nicholas’ Reindeer charity project are delivering presents for upcoming winter holidays to the kids aged from 3 to 12 who live in the gray zone near the frontline in the east of Ukraine.
“As of the end of 2016, about 10,000 and 4,000 children live in close proximity to contact line in Donetsk and Luhansk regions correspondingly,” inform AKCenter volunteers.
According to Yevheniia Levinshtein, the event organizer and coordinator, the project started at the end of 2016 when they first brought toys, clothes, books and sweets to the primary and secondary schools and orphanages in the small towns and villages in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Kharkiv volunteers found out about Christmas wishes of those kids, who hear gunfire every single day, by talking to the local volunteers and they also asked children to write letters to Saint Nicholas.
In 2016, children wrote about 1,200 letters while this year, Saint Nicholas’ Reindeer got more than 3,000 letters with various wishes.
In 2018, volunteers have expanded the area of their activity by adding villages near Svitlodarsk and Avdiivka and Stanitsia Luhanska with nearby villages to their list.
Yevheniia mentions this year children have asked for all sorts of toys, including glow tracks and LOL dolls, various gadgets and even a hot-air balloon ride.
Mrs. Levinshtein confesses that generosity is rising every single year. From the start of the project, Ukrainian and overseas companies, diasporas from Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, USA and Israel helped to fulfill kids’ wishes. For instance, MobiDev IT company has been helping for three years to purchase various electronic devices.
Not only companies and organizations help to collect presents. Notably, a family from Kyiv sent 30 mobile phones last year. Anyone wishing to make holidays for kids from frontline zone brighter, can visit Saint Nicholas’ Reindeer group on their Facebook page and look through children’s wishes with pictures which were drawn with love and hope by each of the little ones. “Every person who wants to help can send a present to a kid and even a letter to make a bridge between a giver and a child,” Yevheniia says.
To date, volunteers have managed to collect 1,270 presents, some of them are still on the way. On December 16, Reindeer are traveling to Avdiivka, Lastochkine, Orlivka, Umanske, Tonenke and Berdychi to deliver presents and to make kids’ wishes come true. They will be visiting some villages for the first time. Overall, volunteers are going to visit the furthest corners of Donbas seven times.
In addition to giving presents, Reindeer team is going to give master-classes and play small interactive performances before Christmas.
“It can’t be expressed in words how the gift giver feels looking in bright children’s eyes when his or her dream comes true! Everyone could become a magician fulfilling kid’s dream!” Mrs. Levinshtein says.
Text: Natalia Ivanova