An immigrant brings Christmas gifts from the USA to children in Ukraine to give them joy during the war - ForumDaily
The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

An immigrant brings Christmas gifts to children in Ukraine from the United States to give them joy during the war.

Over the past two years, Ukrainian children have experienced exceptional hardships that have deprived them of the opportunity to enjoy their childhood. Natalya Yakushko decided that although she could not help them overcome their heartache, she could give them a holiday and remind them that they were not alone. This is how the initiative was born Santa For A Day. Ukrainian Angel Tree.

Photo: IStock

Last year, “Santa” delivered Christmas gifts to more than 200 children in Ukraine. There is no data for this year yet, but the gifts will reach their recipients closer to mid-December. In 2023, 311 children sent letters to Santa with wishes, but there are usually more gifts.

The founder of the project, Natalya Yakushko, said that this is not her first such initiative and she has already done something similar.

“In general, this idea appeared many years ago, when I was a student at Lviv National University in Ukraine. Back in 2011, I did a similar thing at the university. I simply collected letters in orphanages and my classmates and I went and gave gifts to the children,” Natalya told ForumDaily. “Last year our house was destroyed - a rocket hit my sister’s apartment. I felt very bad for my sister and I thought: how many children are there who were also left without a home, or without relatives, or without their usual toys? I fly to Ukraine very often. And I asked volunteers last year to go to the orphanage and to the children who had lost their homes and ask them to write a letter to St. Nicholas. That is, the children give them these letters, they photograph them for me, and here I deal with them further.”

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Natalya notes that most of all the children want peace and the end of the war, but they do not forget about themselves.

“Most often, children ask for peace in Ukraine and for the war to end. And then they say: if you, Nikolai, still have the opportunity, bring me a toy, or clothes, or shoes. Last year there was a girl who had to flee the occupied territory and could not take her shoes with her for sports. And she wrote: I have to go to competitions, but I don’t have shoes. I was shocked, because a child should ask for candy and toys, not shoes,” said Natalya.

The initiative was expanding right before our eyes.

“Last year I received 100 letters from the Zaporozhye region. It was impossible to read them without tears. I started handing out these letters at the university. I am a graduate student teaching in Tennessee and have many colleagues. They sorted through the letters in three days. Then I realized that I needed to do this on a larger scale somehow,” Natalya said. – I added another 100 children from the Kharkov region. I translated all the letters, made a website, uploaded them, now each letter has an individual page. I wanted the children to feel that they were not forgotten. It doesn't matter where they live, Nikolai will find them, even if they no longer have their home, even if they had to move. It was important for me to find exactly these toys that they drew in their letters.”

The children were very happy with their gifts and even gave some away to be given to other children.

“The children liked it so much that they didn’t believe it was true. They came to me with these letters, they cried because they saw that I had brought them exactly the gift that they had drawn. They also came back and gave me some gifts, apples, and recited poems. I tried to give two gifts to everyone - what they asked for, and something else small,” Natalya shared. “So they returned small gifts to me and asked me to give them to someone else who needed it more.” I think they really felt then that St. Nicholas existed. We buy gifts for everyone who wrote. Every child receives a gift, we monitor this.”

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Gifts travel a long way, but give so much warmth to every child.

“Last year, all these gifts came to me in Tennessee. But I live in a one-room apartment, and then I received 400 boxes. That was hard. This year I have about 300 children. So I asked my friends in New Jersey who have their own home to have the packages delivered to them. Then I spend two days packing it all up and sending it by Nova Poshta – we agreed with them on a discount on shipping. And I myself am already going to Ukraine to meet this parcel,” explains Natalya. – We have a bus in Lviv, we load all the packages there and go to Zaporozhye and Kharkov. I personally give each gift to the child – exactly as he drew.”

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