Amid war and heartbreak in Ukraine, children’s Christmas wishes come true thanks to the dedicated efforts of volunteers who bring a spark of joy and hope to young lives during the holiday season.
One group, known as the “Reindeer of St. Nicholas,” works tirelessly to bring joy to children during this special time of year. According to Dutch newspaper Trouw, the Reindeer travel throughout the country, bringing presents and putting on an interactive performance for children.
“We want the children to experience something good, to show that the world is not only full of bad experiences,” said Katerina Shutalova, a volunteer with the Reindeer. “Children have only one childhood. We don’t put those off until after the war,” added fellow volunteer Evgenia Levinstein.
The Christmas wishes of the children the Reindeer work with are often both practical and emotional, reflecting the difficulties and losses they have experienced due to the war. One child said, “I would like electricity, water and a toy car. Thank you,” while another said, “Please bring my brother back: he is a prisoner of war- and I miss him so much.”
One child, Liza, said,
“My name is Liza, I am ten years old. I lived in Toshkovka, but the war took me to Mukachevo. That’s sad. But as soon as Ukraine wins I will go back to Toshkovka. Last year you brought me a skateboard, but I had to leave it behind when we fled. So please bring me a skateboard again.”
The Reindeer’s work is especially poignant because they often work with refugee children who have lost everything due to the war. “These children had everything, and lost everything, even their homes,” said Levinstein.
Last December, the Reindeer are delivering some 2,500 gifts, to refugee children across the country. “It’s not about fulfilling all wishes”, says Katerina Shutalova. The Reindeer want them to feel that someone cares for them. Refugee parents from Mariupol wrote in a thank-you letter, “You give our children something that we currently cannot give them.”
It is truly admirable that the Reindeer of St. Nicholas continue to bring joy and hope to children in Ukraine, even in the midst of conflict. They have been doing so for six years already. Their selfless dedication to bringing cheer to young lives is truly inspiring. Check below how you can support them.
The quotes in this article were translated from the Dutch newspaper Trouw and can be found here.
Donate to "Reindeer of St. Nicholas"
Consider supporting the Reindeer of St. Nicholas in their efforts to bring joy and hope to children affected by conflict and displacement in Ukraine. Your support can help bring a little bit of cheer to those who need it most.