Christmas time is an opportunity to make gifts, experience surprises and come true the deepest dreams. For benefactors it is a period of feeling themselves as wizards that help children in realization of their dreams. On the holiday eve, Caritas with its partners, welcomes people who are especially in need of miracles.
Traditionally on St. Nicholas Day, Caritas Kyiv congratulates its wards. This year, children in crisis, children from poor, single-parent and large families, as well as from internally displaced families and children whose parents died in the ATO received more than 2,000 gifts thanks to the benefactors’ support. Older people in Caritas’ care also were not forgotten. Elderly persons – victims of totalitarian regimes received gifts too. “I want to express my sincere gratitude to all benefactors, volunteers and partners for their contribution to shining smiles on children’s faces. Each child felt that Saint Nicholas did not forget about him/her and brought the expected gifts. It is through the work of many people and benefactors, children felt joy in their hearts and believed in the miracles of St. Nicholas. Let us every day be real sowers of good. It will change our world. Thus, I welcome to cooperation in helping those who are hungry, cold, do not have what to wear and are desperate in search of last coin for urgent medicines”, – says Director of Caritas Kyiv Fr. Roman Syrotych.
St. Nicholas visited children and young people in everyday care of Caritas Lviv (projects Crisis Center ‘Street Children’, ‘Recreation Center of Social Rehabilitation for Youth with Special Needs’, Mobile Work with Youth’). All the wards received from St. Nicholas sweet gifts prepared by caring benefactors. Employees of Public Сompany ‘Halychpharm’ as well as community theater ‘Panacea’ helped Caritas staff. ‘Panacea’ staged the show ‘Red Flower’. Hypermarket ‘Auchan City Pivdenny’ gifted 55 children with sweet presents from St. Nicholas. Lviv Polytechnic students also helped children to feel a holiday mood and handed them warm clothes, underwear, fruits and sweets. Holiday time is an opportunity to unite in charitable action a lot of people, learn to love our neighbor and to draw attention to the problems of people in crisis situations. The campaign ‘Be a helper of St. Nicholas’ has been designed for this purpose. Letters-drawings by the children were submitted to Caritas Lviv and then placed in the social network. Volunteers had an opportunity to choose the letter they liked and become a helper of St. Nicholas in making a child’s dream come true, though it was not always that easy. Thanks to the people of good will, about 200 children and youth from low-income families and families of ATO participants received gifts.
Charity event ‘Letters to St. Nicholas’ was held in Khmelnytsky for the fifth consecutive year. All children from families in crisis and poor, large and internally displaced families, children deprived of parental care and children with disabilities have received the expected presents. St. Nicholas from Khmelnytsky comforted kids in neighboring Ternopil region. Together with his assistants, He visited sanatorium and boarding school in Hrymaylivka, Education and Rehabilitation Center in Terebovla, Children Center for Social and Psychological Rehabilitation ‘Happy Childhood” (Polonne) as well as Education and Rehabilitation Center in Iziaslav. In total, 522 children received gifts from St. Nicholas. While almost 200 assistants participated in gifts’ packing and helped Nicholas to organize real New Year’s miracle.
Besides, St. Nicholas came to Ternopil and brought presents for 350 young wards of Caritas – orphans and children from poor IDPs families. Also He did not forget about elderly people in the care of Caritas. For them there have been prepared 55 holiday packages. “During the holidays we can show our love for others – says the director of Caritas Ternopil Andriy Marchuk, – While you are buying gifts for your own children, you can also support other kids in need. It can be something small – sweets, toys or stationery. The main idea is that your gift will bring joy to a child.”
In Ivano-Frankivsk the holiday celebrated about a 100 wards of Caritas – children and young people with special needs, children from families in crisis and families of ATO participants. The festive performance was organized with the assistance of regional Christian youth organization ‘Society of Ukrainian Catholic Students ‘Obnova’. There were dances, carols, treats as well as Christmas gingerbread baking and decorating workshop. “I am a student of Ivano-Frankivsk Theological Seminary. Last year I’ve participated in academic training in Caritas, so I am aware of the needs of children and young people in the care of Caritas. Therefore, we so eagerly responded to the invitation and prepared a theatrical performance for Caritas wards to bring them holiday mood”, – said the deputy head of Obnova Lubomyr Dubey. The workshop of baking and decorating Christmas gingerbread was especially interesting. It was conducted with the assistance of the Ivano-Frankivsk College of Catering and Tourism. “It was very exciting, festive and symbolic. Everyone had a chance to reflect his or her own wishes and dreams in its decoration. Besides, it was interesting for kids to taste such goodies, produced by their own hands or to share it with beloved person,”- said teacher of the college Oksana Myslyuk. Overall this year, 700 children of the region received gifts for the Christmas holidays.
The festive event ‘St. Nicholas in Every Home’ was held in Kharkiv Regional Art Palace for Children and Youth. Caritas with an assistance of the Volunteer Center ‘Together’, Center for Families’ Support, Intercession of Mary Mother of God Sunday Parish School and Ukrainian Academy of Leadership created unforgettable holiday for children.
300 children attended the festival organized by Caritas Kramators’k in the Holy Prophet Elia Church. Everyone present there had a chance to feel the special atmosphere of Christmas and New Year and to receive a gift. Each child obtained exactly what he or she were asking in festive postcards made by their own hands: toys, sweets, clothes, shoes, books…
In Caritas Family Support Center in Zaporizhzhia St. Nicholas Day was also celebrated. Children from families of internally displaced persons and local youth took part in festive performance. Children were dancing, singing songs, reciting poems, and even juggling. Then St. Nicholas accompanied by angels brought sweet gifts and school supplies to all participants. In the evening, they all together along with St. Nicholas visited the Center for Child Development ‘Child Friendly Space’ and performed the show for them.
This year showed another very pleasant trend – Caritas staff is not only helping their wards in their hometowns but also cares about other people who are particularly in need. Thus, Caritas of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Eparchy decided to support their colleagues in Mariupol and joined their campaign of sharing presents with almost 500 wards in the city and in frontline towns Myrne, Chermalyk, Andriyivka and Novotroitske. Thanks to the joint efforts, dreams of many children became true. Little girl that likes to paint received her favored easel, young athlete got dumbbells, meanwhile a boy with disabilities finally received his much-needed training equipment and eyes of a young ballerina were shining with happiness when she finally received pointe shoes! “I Thank God that my 9-year-old child still believes in miracles and in the existence of St. Nicholas – said her mother. – And I am grateful to people like you for strengthening her belief today. I myself believed it when I saw presented pointe shoes and happiness of my daughter. She is wearing them and dancing the whole day and probably she will go to sleep still wearing them. Today I repeated a million times that now she is a real ballet dancer.” Hard times unite us. Such projects where families from Western Ukraine support the needy from the East of our country give us hope and help to bring delight to every house.