A magic Sinterklaas

UU student collecting gifts for children in Ukraine

Presents to kids in Kyiv
Some of the presents collected by Lisa when she organised a similar initiative with ESN Kyiv years ago. Photo: courtesy of the student

Lisa will be travelling back to Kyiv to visit her family but she wants to do more than just that. “Winter is the season of charity and magic, so I wanted to do something nice for the kids of an orphanage and boarding home in my city.” A few years ago, with the help of ESN Kyiv, Lisa collected gifts and donations for Sviatoshyn, an orphanage and boarding home for children with intellectual disabilities such as Down Syndrome. “So, I thought: ‘Why not repeat the gesture and give these kids an opportunity to feel that magic again?’”

This time, though, Lisa is doing everything on her own. “This shows that anyone can start an initiative like this, even by themselves,” she says. Each participant is going to be assigned to a specific kid. Lisa recommends that presents cost around 15 to 20 euros. “This way, we’ll keep things equal for all receivers.” In addition to toys, givers can donate toiletries like shower gel, which are sometimes hard to come by. Drivers will transport the gifts to the border and then send them further by post. Lisa is planning to pay for the post costs herself. 

Those wishing to participate are invited to fill in a form no later than November 26 and make sure to take their gift to a collecting point in Utrecht by December 10. The location is yet to be defined. “It depends on the number of participants. There are a number of possible spots in the city centre or in De Bilt, at a café near my home.” 

Depending on how things go this year, Lisa intends to expand the initiative next year and allow for personalised gifts. “If it goes well, next year I will ask them to send letters with their wishes for Sinterklaas and translate them.”