Bringing Christmas to Orphans
Ukraine, like Russia, continues the Communist tradition of celebrating the secular New Year’s Day holiday rather than Christmas. Ukraine Orphan Outreach (UOO) has worked for the past decade to help bring true Christmas celebrations to orphanages, and, with that effort, to Ukraine’s society at large.
Even before the current war in Ukraine, UOO was working with orphanages to celebrate Christmas and to bring joy to the children there. The war has created even more need for our Christmas project.
UOO fulfills several aspects of its mission through these Christmas celebrations.
Thanking the orphanage employees: Orphanage employees are overworked and underpaid. Our Christmas celebrations are a way to thank the staff. We provide a small gift to each employee at the orphanage, with a card to thank each individual for investing in these children’s lives. At one UOO Christmas party, one employee mentioned that it was the first time she had ever received a gift for her work – after more than ten years at the orphanage.
Our gift bags vary in their contents, but have included some of the following items:
Bracelets from Washington, DC for the women employees, boxes of chocolates, canvas bags, nail polish, magnets from different cities in the United States, postcards from the United States, fruit, Christmas cakes, Christmas ornaments, candy, and Christmas cards with thank-you notes.
Telling the story of Jesus: For many children in the orphanages, Christmas comes and goes each year without any awareness of the meaning of the holiday, or the story of Jesus’ birth. At our parties, we share that story and talk about the gift-giving in the context of the gift of Jesus.
Creating in-roads with orphanages and strengthening our relationships with orphanage staff: Our ability to work in orphanages throughout the year is dependent on our relationships with orphanage directors and staff. These annual Christmas parties help us develop new relationships and strengthen existing relationships.
Bringing joy to children: For many children in the orphanages, Christmas is like any other day – limited food selections, no presents, and no cause for celebration. Our celebrations are about much more than a simple afternoon party. We are providing joy and hope to children in the orphanage system.
- UOO volunteers shopping for diapers for Christmas parties.