Teplom Zihriyemo Sertsia – 2016
One of the most eagerly anticipated dates of the entire year for Ukrainian children throughout the world is undoubtedly the feast of St. Nicholas, when they await his visit and the goodies he brings with him. Sadly, for many children in Ukraine whose lives have been torn apart by the war with Russia in the eastern part of the country, a visit from St. Nicholas takes on a whole new meaning. Peace and joy haven’t been part of their lives since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. Thousands of children have been displaced from their homes or have lost family members that bravely served on the battlefront to protect and secure the democratic and territorial sovereignty of Ukraine. For these innocents, a gift from St. Nicholas holds an especially dear place in their little hearts and brings them just a little happiness during the holidays. But as we all know, St. Nicholas cannot accomplish such an undertaking without the help of a few kind-hearted and generous “angels.”
Once again this year, for the third time in a row, the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM) in the United States, in conjunction with the worldwide governing body of the organization, were the “angels” that St. Nicholas relied upon to bring joy to children in Ukraine under the auspices of a humanitarian project called “Teplom Zihriyemo Sertsia” (loosely translated, “warming hearts through kindness.”) The goal of this project, which has become an annual tradition now, was to unite Ukrainian youth throughout the world in good deed and benevolence for others, in this case for children-refugees, and children whose parents may currently be on the battlefront or may have already given their greatest sacrifice for their country – their life.
The “Teplom Zihriyemo Sertsia” campaign included CYM members from the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. From the US alone there was 100% participation from each of the 19 active CYM branches (Oseredky and Viddily) in the country and one independent Ukrainian church community of St. Nicholas Church in Troy, NY. Additionally, participation extended beyond CYM members to include the wider Ukrainian community as well as, a large group of non-Ukrainian residents from Fairfield County in Connecticut who simply heard about the campaign through social media and generously joined the effort! All said, participants in “Teplom Zihriyemo Sertsia” were successful in sending over 1,039 gifts to local CYM contacts in Ukraine for distribution to children in need of some hope and Christmas cheer predominantly in Chmelnytsk, Ternopil, and Kalush.
This heartwarming project extends an opportunity for Ukrainian children to feel the love, generosity and caring of others during Christmastime and to know that they have not been forgotten, neither by St. Nicholas nor by Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian families across the vast ocean. For those who participated in collecting and sending the gifts, the opportunity to think beyond their own immediate problems and concerns and to show love for their neighbors in need, as God instructed us to do, is invaluable! CYM’s core mission and values are to instill in its members a love for God and Ukraine, and “Teplom Zihriyemo Sertsia” is an integral part of that effort. It is the Ukrainian Youth Association’s greatest hope and joy that these acts of kindness during Christmastime will warm the hearts of children in Ukraine with the love and warmth that went into each and every gift sent to them!
Chrystos Razhdayetsia! (Christ is Born!) ~ SlaviteYoho! (Glorify Him!)