WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
"The enemy really hopes to use winter against us: to make the winter cold and difficulties part of their terror. We must do everything to endure this winter, no matter how difficult it may be. To endure this winter is to endure everything," said President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in a recent speech.
This winter can become challenging for Ukraine. But the winter season will bring us not only difficulties and problems. Ahead, even during the war, are the best winter holidays—St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, and New Year. Now is the time to remind ourselves: standing up to challenges and defending our beloved country is not only about resisting the aggressor and troubles. It is also about continuing to live, sharing support, warmth, and joy.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Do good deeds! It is easy and enjoyable. Today, it is imperative to maintain the cycle of goodness when everything is difficult. Research shows that doing good deeds can significantly benefit your happiness, health, confidence, and well-being, and giving back to those you help can do it too. An act of kindness may take little time, but the memory of helping others will stay with you (and those you help) much longer.
Rubryka gathered the good deeds of December—be inspired and give kindness to each other even (especially!) in these difficult times.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
🎁 "Magic Wardrobe" from Germany 🎁
In December, you can find pre-holiday wardrobes on the streets of many German towns. Germans put small gifts in such cabinets, often with warm words and wishes. Moreover, a gift doesn't necessarily have to be something big and expensive. On the contrary, lovely trinkets are usually placed in the lockers, for example, empty beautiful tin boxes for tea or cookies, candles, cups, coasters, cookie molds, animal figurines, napkins, handkerchiefs, and sweets.
"People go to the wardrobe, take gifts, and then put theirs there. Can you imagine how cool it is to exchange gifts with strangers? Especially if a person is lonely. It brings so much joy to children and adults!" says psychologist Yulia Khmelivska.
Such a wardrobe can be recreated in your city, giving life to an old cabinet, and placed, for example, in a park. "Goodness shelves" can also be created, for instance, at school, Point of Invincibility, or negotiated with the owners of a local store.
Many stores and supermarkets now have "goodness baskets" where visitors put food for the needy. But you can put not only bread, cereals, or canned goods in them but also Christmas decorations, battery-powered garlands, postcards, and souvenirs. This way, you can share food and the pre-holiday mood, becoming someone's personal and unexpected Santa.
🦌 Reindeer of St. Nicholas 🦌
The Reindeer of St. Nicholas project was launched in Kharkiv in 2016. Thanks to it, children from the front-line territories could receive a fabulous performance with animators and the desired New Year's holidays. February 24 changed the lives of the project organizers.
"The great blender of the full-scale invasion stirred everything up. The East moved to the West. Kharkiv, our bridgehead, a peaceful city, and deer home, became a war zone. But to not go crazy, you must do what you can," says project coordinator Inna Achkasova.
Now the Reindeer headquarters is based in Svitlovodsk, Kirovohrad region, where the project continues its work despite russia's war in Ukraine. Now the Reindeer sleigh will go to children affected by the war in almost all regions of Ukraine. Anyone can become a magician and make a gift to some of the wards. You can simply help the initiative by reposting or telling about them to those who want to help someone but don't know how.
The database of Children's Dreams is already open here; you can see the wishes and letters to Nicholas of the children participating in the project and choose a ward by filling out the form. As soon as the child's dream is designated for you, the corresponding line in the table will turn blue. And you need to send gifts to Svitlovodsk. You can find details about delivery here. Then the volunteers will deliver all the gifts sent to the children.
As the Reindeer team says, children only have one childhood, and we can't put it off for wartime. Children believe in goodness and look forward to Nicholas's gifts. You can become one of his assistants.
👕 Clothes for displaced people 👕
In the village of Novi Petrivtsi in the Vyshhorod Region, there is a free shop inside the two-bedroom apartment. It is always crowded. Community residents bring clothes and shoes they no longer need. They give things away to share them with those who have lost their homes or are forced to hide from the war. You can meet people from Mariupol, Bakhmut, Kherson, and many other cities and villages here.
The initiator of the project is a volunteer and activist, Tetiana Skaprovska.
"At first, the idea arose to make an exchange store. A place where people can come to bring their things and choose something for themselves. Then we felt that we, together with the caring people of the community, could assist the displaced during the war. So today, it is also an exchange store and a help center for families from the east of Ukraine—not only IDPs but also persons with disabilities, large families, families of military personnel, and military personnel with injuries in the hospital. Also, everyone can come and pay for the chosen clothes with their time, just helping volunteers in the store. This is such a natural cycle of goodness," said Tetiana Skaprovska.
The store notes that they did not expect such activity from the community residents. They brought so many things that they started to form and send parcels all over Ukraine.
Are things in your closet still in good condition, but you no longer wear them? Find new owners for them. Let them get a second life, and let people get a piece of the warmth of your heart.
🐶 Warm up stray animals 🐶
The UAnimals animal rights organization cites numbers: due to frost and cold, a dog can die in 15 hours, and a cat can do in 6. Therefore, in winter, the availability of a warm shelter is, first of all, necessary for animals. The caring residents can easily make houses for animals in cities and villages. If you have the right skills, tools, and materials, you can make a small hut and insulate it with old clothes.
A house for homeless animals can be made even from ordinary plastic bottles, as is done, for example, in Lutsk. Activists say: when the idea of creating houses arose, they shouted on social media. Many residents of Lutsk responded by bringing empty bottles and other materials.
Even children can handle making such a house. Plastic bottles should be connected with tape, and to make the homes warmer and more reliable, you can fill the inside with foam and sand. Then the entire structure must be covered with a film so that it is not blown away by the wind.
Houses for four-legged friends are an excellent initiative. But don't forget to communicate with the owners of the areas where you plan to install them or with the people responsible for them.
In addition, experts advise bringing warm food and water to street animals (so they will cool down longer and not freeze). And even better, if you can, find an animal a new home and give it a family and love. "After all, it depends only on us how the animals will survive this winter in the conditions of energy terrorism," says UAnimals.
📚 Books for liberated territories 📚
Wartime bookcrossing means sharing read books with the residents of the liberated territories. For example, the Kharkiv Literary Museum collects Ukrainian books to take them to the children of communities under occupation. The After Occupation. Books For Children was launched back in October. Literary museum employee Olha Bondar-Riznychenko and other volunteers often go to liberated communities and bring food and necessary things. That's how she found out that there are many children in the liberated villages. In many communities, there are still serious problems with electricity, and the Internet is not available, so books for children have become the only entertainment. But there are not enough books. In some settlements, libraries were destroyed. In others, the russians forced residents to burn Ukrainian books.
As of today, the literary museum managed to collect and transfer to libraries and young readers more than two thousand copies. Volunteers take books not only to liberated communities but also to places where many displaced people live.
This promotion is open-ended. All willing Ukrainians can join it. If you also want to donate books to children, write a letter to Literary Museum at the following address: [email protected].
👵 Become a friend for an older person 👵
Statistics show that even in times of peace, one in three older people feels lonely and isolated. Now, when there is a full-scale war in the country, we are all trying to cope with the consequences of russian energy terror. This situation has worsened.
If you have elderly neighbors, even a simple conversation with them can have a positive impact. Do not leave elderly neighbors alone. Today in the cities, when the elevators do not work for most of the day, they need help with everyday things such as shopping, walking the dogs, buying medicine, or drinking water. You can also offer to help them get to doctor's appointments and other activities and suggest the best solutions to overcome the inconvenience of a blackout.
You can support the elderly from a distance by becoming a member of the My Phone Friend project. It is about helping those alone and dreaming of hearing warm words over the phone. This friendly and kind project unites lonely older people with volunteers who call each week to discuss various topics.
EVEN MORE HELPFUL SOLUTIONS
❤️ Generous Tuesday is every day ❤️
Generosity Tuesday is a global movement where everyone does a good deed, big or small, and shares it with others. In Ukraine, Generous Tuesday has been held since 2018. This year, this holiday was celebrated on November 29.
If you missed this day or didn't know about it, no problem. You can be generous and kind on any day of any month. After all, when, if not now, to support people and spread goodness.
You can be generous with your skills. Many people will be glad to use your skillful hands in other places. Someone needs to sew clothes, but they don't have a sewing machine, and another person cannot cope with a leaking faucet or a broken chair. Someone doesn't have anything to make a candle with and wants to learn how to use a backpacking stove. Do you have a craft or valuable skill and have time to help? Post about it in a local social media group or house chat to share what you know.
Help each other. This is another way to show how Ukrainians fight and continue life despite everything.
This article was created by the Rubryka online outlet within the Ukraine Rapid Response Fund program, implemented by IREX with the support of the US State Department. The content is the sole responsibility of the Rubryka online publication and does not necessarily reflect the views of IREX or the US State Department.
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