Ukrainian volunteers have launched "Secret Santa for the Armed Forces of Ukraine" to help support Ukraine’s defenders.
The popular activity normally involves an anonymous Christmas gift exchange between a group of people, often with names draw at random.
This adaptation for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) is based on people collecting a gift for a soldier and either transferring it to a dedicated reception point (one of many across Ukraine) or sending it by post to the organizer. Gifts can also be sent using an international shipment method (further details available via the organizer).
Alternatively, monetary gifts can be sent via Monobank or by PayPal to: [email protected]. The organizers will then help to purchase an appropriate present.
The organizers have compiled a "wish list" of items that the military needs:
· Food (tea, coffee, goodies and long-term storage products);
· Clothing (socks, underwear, thermal underwear, fleece, T-shirts, hats, gloves, warm outerwear);
· Personal care products (toothbrush and paste, toilet paper, wet wipes, soap, gel, shaving machine and foam, etc.);
· Hot water bottles, carimats, sleeping bags;
· Turnstiles and military first aid kits;
· Battery operated lights and red lights;
· Gas cylinders and tiles;
· Diesel and gasoline cans;
· Portable chargers, generators, charging stations, Starlinks;
· Autonomous heaters; and
· Greetings card with new year wishes.
On New Year's Eve, volunteers will take the collected items to various military units on the frontline (Kherson and Donetsk regions).
The organizers will be immensely grateful to all those who wish to take part and help raise the mood of those defending the democratic rights and values of free people around the world.
A very different Christmas and new year in Ukraine
Christmas and new year is normally a time to celebrate fun winter holidays and enjoy an atmosphere of comfort. However, in Ukraine, this year is significantly different from any before. The new realities of Russia’s brutal and on-going war have made their own adjustments.
Still, Ukrainians – both miliary members and ordinary citizens – are trying not to lose their optimism and festive spirit.
In Bucha, which experienced some of the worst atrocities against civilians, a Christmas tree has already been installed after consulting with the community. In the capital Kyiv, which used to twinkle with bright, colorful garlands, themed attractions and smells of baking and warming mulled wine, the atmosphere this year is very different.
Repeated attacks on energy infrastructure mean the streets can be in darkness for long periods at a time. Ordinary candles, replacing battery-powered lights, have taken on a new meaning.
Despite these challenges, Ukraine’s citizens are still trying to create a positive atmosphere to maintain the mood of the holiday season and hope/belief in victory.
However, everyone understands that this Christmas and new year will not be festive for everyone. After all, hundreds of thousands will have to meet 00:00 on January 1 in the trenches, protecting Ukraine from the continued onslaught of Russian invaders.
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