As the wind begins to blow and the snow begins to fly, Americans feel the excitement build as they prepare to spend time with their families for Thanksgiving. They anticipate a pleasant large gathering with family and friends, a table laden with a large turkey, potatoes, salads, and numerous pies and desserts. They anticipate laughing and telling stories over dinner, and then spending the evening with a fire crackling in the fireplace as they watch movies and doze on the couch. The following day, Black Friday, they have plans to stand in long lines to take advantage of sales and promotions on products they wish to purchase for themselves and others as Christmas gifts.
As the wind blows and the snow flies, Ukraine enters the ninth month of the Russian invasion. Families huddle together for warmth. Fires are lit to keep warm, as the electricity has been out for weeks. On the makeshift stovetop, the snow is melted for drinking water. The people are hunkered down in their cellars, or in their homes which have been patched with tarps and boards to stop the cold wind blowing through the blown-out windows, and walls destroyed by Russian missiles. Bundled up against the cold, the people venture out because they have heard that supplies will be available this day.
Long lines gather, as more and more people get the news. Grannies bundled in thick woolen scarves, with house slippers on their cold feet hunch over as they wait. Babies in prams whimper and cry as the cold bites at their toes. Infants huddle close to their mothers who rub their hands to keep them warm. Old men on rusty bikes smile toothless grins trying to distract the children from their misery.
And so, families across the globe huddle together, support each other, and give thanks to the Lord. Those in Ukraine anticipate relief granted them thanks to the generous donations of the members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who with the blessing of Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel are encouraged to help their brethren who are sheltering in place or are displaced persons within the borders of Ukraine or are refugees in other countries.
From the first missile explosion on February 24th, the faithful of the UOC of the USA mobilized their efforts to aid their ancestral homeland in her renewed struggled against an aggressive neighbor, Russia. Funds and supplies came pouring in and were distributed to those in need in Ukraine.
This day those standing in the long cold lines in Mykolaiv region of Ukraine rejoiced and cried with joy, as the truck pulled up and they were able to access the most basic needs of life – clean water (170 tons of bottled water), food, and clothing.
Children’s tears dried on their cheeks as they were handed chocolate bars and toys in Kostyantynivka region of Donbas.
Mothers’ cheeks were wet with tears as they were handed packages of Diapers and baby formula in Dnipro Center for Refugees, spiritually directed by His Eminence Metropolitan Serhiy of Donetsk (Orthodox Church of Ukraine). The elderly praised God when their bags were filled with preserves. The men smiled as they saw building supplies, so they could repair their homes and keep their families warm.
The little cans of Sterno, which will be lit on Thanksgiving in the US beneath the chafing dishes to keep the buffet warm, were gleefully distributed to the people in Ukraine for not only cooking their food, but for warming their hands.
With no electricity, no running water, no heat, no light… the true value of items is realized. The Ukrainian people with hope in their eyes, and gratitude in their hearts, praised the Lord, thanking Him for providing them with these much-needed supplies.
Searching through the rack of available coats, parents dressed their cold children in warmth. They found boots for their children’s freezing feet, and scarves to keep their noses warm. The people returned to their homes, and stocked their shelves with cans of beans, meat preserves, jars of pickled beets, bags of rice, and bottles of water. For the time being their hunger would be satiated.
The elderly who were not able to venture out in the cold, were brought supplies by the local clergy and hierarchs who have made it their mission to ensure their flocks are taken care of spiritually and physically. The bedridden elderly smiled warmly as they were prayed over, given an extra blanket, a bag of goodies, and a lot of hope.
To further ensure the wellbeing of the people of Ukraine, thanks to the generous donations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, four additional ambulances were delivered which will aid in saving lives and providing much needed medical assistance to those who are suffering in Ukraine.
As we prepare to celebrate the holidays, sitting down to scrumptious meals, surrounded by family and loved ones, in warmth and safety, please remember those who are struggling to survive day to day with the winter closing in, homes destroyed, sirens blaring, missiles flying and the fear of not knowing what tomorrow holds. Let us give them some peace of mind, warm their hands and their hearts with our donations.