WHIPPANY, N.J. – In the fall of 2016, the New Jersey branch of the Plast sorority “Ti, Shcho Hrebli Rvut,” planned a project to assist the children of Plast members who were injured or died in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in eastern Ukraine.
The plan came to fruition in November when a 17-pound package containing winter hats, gloves and scarves, generously donated by the sorority members, was sent by air to Ukraine. Funds to defray the cost of shipping the package were collected from a “vechirka,” or dance, held by the “Hrebli” for the youth of the metropolitan area at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center in Whippany, N.J., on April 16, 2016.
The package was delivered into the very capable hands of a sister sorority member in the city of Chernivtsi, Ukraine, Lesia Fedorenko. The plan was to locate the children of Plast members and give them these items of clothing just in time for the Feast of St. Nicholas, celebrated on December 19 in Ukraine.
Ms. Fedorenko went far beyond what “Hrebli” in the United States could have imagined. Assisting her was a young Plast scout, a candidate for entry into the sorority, Nastia Verbinska, who prepared beautiful Christmas cards for the children. Ms. Fedorenko wrote very touching personalized letters from St. Nicholas to be given to each and every child receiving a gift. Each child or family of children also received a book, “Lehenda pro Kiborha,” (Legend of the Cyborg) generously donated by the author,
Ivan Diachuk. Ms. Fedorenko also developed a network of very reliable couriers who hand delivered the gifts to the children in various cities in Ukraine.
In total, 34 children from eight cities across Ukraine received warm winter hats, gloves and scarves. The cities included Lviv, Ternopil, Kyiv, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Kropyvnytskyi, Kolomiya, as well as Severodonetsk (Luhansk region) and Avdiyivka (Donetsk region), where recent fighting has occurred.
Some children were orphans, some had lost one parent, others had a severely injured parent as a result of their service in the ATO. It was heartwarming to receive photos of these children and to see their beautiful smiles, wearing their new items of clothing.
This was truly a lovely example of a successful project executed together by Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization’s “Ti, Shcho Hrebli Rvut” sorority in both the United States and Ukraine.