With the Help of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s New Year’s Campaign for Children, Santa Delivers Holiday Miracles to Kids in Ukraine

    For most who celebrate the holiday, Christmas falls on Dec. 25. In Ukraine, where traditions follow the Eastern Orthodox calendar, Jan. 7 is Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve — called Sviaty Vechir (Holy Evening) — Ukrainians traditionally light a candle in the window as a sign of welcome. The evening meal is held until the first star, symbolizing the journey of the three kings, appears in the sky.

    This past holiday season, however, was different. In July, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared Dec. 25 the official holiday in defiance of the Russian tradition of following the Eastern Orthodox custom. After all, Christmas was in danger of becoming a casualty of war in Russia’s unrelenting assault. But the spirit of the nation and the uplifting message of the season refused to be crushed under the oppressive boot of an iniquitous foe. And with some help from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, Santa Claus himself — aka Did Moroz (Father Frost) or Svyatyy Mykolay (St. Nicholas), as he’s known in Ukraine — put in a very special personal appearance to brighten the hearts of youngsters impacted by the war.


    How Rinat Akhmetov’s Charitable Outreach Evolved To Meet Ukraine’s Growing Need 


    The New Year’s Campaign for Children is just one of the many arms of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s outreach. The charitable organization, conceived by forward-thinking Ukrainian industrialist Rinat Akhmetov, receives crucial funding for a multitude of humanitarian initiatives from the coffers of several prominent corporations Akhmetov runs, including the country’s leading steel and mining conglomerate, Metinvest. 


    Akhmetov, who enjoys many financial advantages thanks to his professional endeavors, reflects on how his outlook on charity evolved with his growing perception of supply and demand in that sector. “In the beginning, I simply took money out of my pocket, quietly, to help those in need,” he recalled. “I think that a situation like that is familiar to many … Say you know a person who is in distress and who needs help. You help that person, and that’s wonderful. 


    “Then, at some point, you realize that unfortunately, there are another million people suffering the same misfortune, which means we are talking about systemic problems. Only a consistent approach can help us overcome these [issues]. That was how I arrived at my second stage of charity, the stage of corporate social responsibility.”


    A New Year’s Campaign for Children Brings Orphans Joy 


    Widowed Lidia Ishchuk, whose home-style orphanage in Kyiv has been a refuge to 25 children since it opened, is no stranger to the generosity of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. Currently, Ishchuk’s family consists of herself and seven minor children ranging in age from 6 to 17. Over the course of the most recent holidays, members of the New Year’s Campaign for Children team visited the orphanage, bringing with them holiday gifts and engaging the children in a creative master class to help them tap into and express their own personal “super powers and talents.”


    “We have been friends with the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation for a long time, even before the war,” Ishchuk said. “They helped us organize holidays for the children and training activities that were useful for us, the parents. Every year, the children look forward to the holiday. These are simple human relations that warm the soul. We know that we can ask for help when necessary.” 


    Why Christmas Traditions Mean More Now Than Ever

    War doesn’t discriminate when targeting its victims. Young, old, soldier, civilian, none of those designations matter when the shelling starts. In Ukraine, armed defenders and helpless children alike perished in the flames of incendiary bombardment. For many children who survived the onslaught, it was at unspeakable cost. Some were deprived of their parents and homes; others lost their hearing or a limb — and all of them forfeited the innocent hopes and dreams of childhood. For more than two decades, restoring children’s hopes and helping them forge a better future has been the mission of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s New Year’s Campaign for Children.


    Sadly, certain Ukrainian Christmas traditions have taken on greater significance since the invasion began. Whether it’s setting an extra place at the table in remembrance of a lost loved one or bringing a sheaf of wheat (didukh) into the home — echoing a symbolic golden harvest flourishing under a blue sky on the nation’s flag — reminders of tragic loss as well as the defining freedoms that call for such sacrifice resonate more deeply now. 

    For Ukraine’s children, who have no place in war and yet have been swept up in the mindless maelstrom of Russian aggression nonetheless, holiday cheer, once taken for granted, means much more as well. “During the war, this tradition of kindness and help has taken on a somewhat special meaning,” explained Rinat Akhmetov Foundation representative Alina Klimchyk. “No matter how hard the enemy has been trying to leave our children without celebration and holiday joys, we will not allow them to do so. Holidays and miracles will definitely happen.”

    You May Also Like

    Dr. Bart Rossi Discusses Presidential Candidates

    Featured on New Theory Magazine Podcast: esteemed psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi discusses the 2016 ...

    Android Text Hack

    Researchers at Zimperium zLabs have uncovered a series of vulnerabilities affecting Android operating systems that could ...