One of the most eagerly anticipated dates of the entire year for Ukrainian children throughout the world is undoubtedly the feast of St. Nicholas. Children impatiently await his visit and the goodies he brings with him! Unfortunately, there are many children in Ukraine currently who have gone to live with extended family while their fathers or mothers go to the battlefront in the east of the country to fight Russian aggression, and to protect and secure the democratic and territorial sovereignty of Ukraine. For these innocents, who are without their parents during the holidays or may have had to flee their homes as refugees from the war, a gift from St. Nicholas would, most likely, hold an especially dear place in their little hearts and give them one of the few reasons left that they have to smile! But as we all know, St. Nicholas cannot accomplish such an undertaking without the help of a few kind-hearted and generous “angels.”
This year, for the second consecutive year, the Ukrainian American 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 “Warming Hearts with Warmth – 2015.” The goal of this project was to unite Ukrainian youth throughout the world in good deed for others, in this case for children whose parents may currently be on the battlefront or may have already given their greatest sacrifice for their country – their life. Additionally, children-refugees from the war-torn east of Ukraine, were also designated recipients of the gifts from the “CYM-angels.”
The “Warming Hearts with Warmth – 2015” campaign included CYM members from the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. From the United States alone there was 100% participation from each of the 18 active CYM centers (Oseredky and Viddily) in the country. Additionally, several church communities where there are not active CYM centers but individual CYM members currently residing, were thrilled to join in the campaign as soon as they heard of the great work being done! Participants in “Warming Hearts with Warmth – 2015” were successful in sending over 1,500 gifts to CYM contacts in Ukraine, nearly 550 of which came from U.S.-based active CYM centers (Oseredky and Viddily), who then disseminated them to overjoyed children on St. Nicholas’ day. Specifically, CYM Ukraine has active centers in Kalush, Lviv, Ternopil, Chmelnytsk, Chernihiv, Skvyry, Bobryents, Dnipropetrovsk and Kyiv.
This heartwarming project has not only practical benefits for the Ukrainian children who received gifts this year, but also extends an opportunity for these same children to feel the love, generosity and caring of others during Christmas time. Many of them and their extended family with whom they are currently residing were very moved to know they had not been forgotten, neither by St. Nicholas nor by Ukrainian families from across the vast ocean. For those who participated in collecting and sending the gifts, the opportunity to think beyond their own immediate problems and needs, to help and show love for their neighbors in need, as God instructed us to do, was a priceless lesson beyond measure! It was the Ukrainian American Youth Association’s greatest hope and joy that these acts of kindness during Christmas time would 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!)