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From Ukraine with Love

In late October, nearly 1,200 hand-crafted Christmas ornaments arrived at the HART Calgary office from Ukraine. Each of these little ornaments were once in the hands of a sponsored child in HART’s Child Sponsorship Program, and will soon be in the hands of their faithful and loving sponsors. Today, they are being processed by veteran HART volunteer Georgina Duncan at the HART Calgary offices—the last leg in their journey to sponsors.

Volunteer Georgina Duncan sorting ornaments at the HART office in Calgary, Alberta.

Georgina has put in nearly 80 hours this past month sorting, labelling, and packaging each ornament received from the HART Ukraine office. Ultimately, she ensures that each ornament makes it from individual sponsored children to his or her correct sponsor. All of this requires incredible attention to detail—something that comes naturally to her.

“I often think about how happy a sponsor will be to receive an ornament from their sponsored child,” she says. Each ornament bears the characteristics of its creator’s youthful personality and creativity, which Georgina appreciates getting to see as she prepares them for shipment.

Georgina, who has volunteered with HART for 15 years and has sponsored several children over the years, says one of the best parts of sponsorship is seeing firsthand how the love of God and the dedication of a sponsor can change the trajectory of a child’s life. She supported one of her sponsored children, Mariya, for 10 years before the girl graduated from HART’s Child Sponsorship Program.

“I myself don’t have any [natural] granddaughters,” says Georgina. “Mariya is the closest thing I have.”

Mariya during her early years as a HART sponsored child.

Today, Mariya is a responsible, educated young adult. She is currently working at a day-care.

“It is incredible being able to help her achieve that,” Georgina says. “I always encouraged her not to let go of her faith in God and not to lose sight of her goal. It also helps them to know that you’re praying for them,” she says. “Makes you feel connected to God’s Kingdom.”

“Each ornament represents a huge community of people, a blanket of prayer, and Christ-centred support,” says Donna Unterschultz, the Child Sponsorship Administrator in HART’s Calgary office. “They are a symbol of the bond between a child and his or her sponsor.”

“It’s representative not just of the child, but the family who raises it, the caseworker who checks in on the family, the community they belong to, and the church that they attend. It’s all connected.”

A worldwide journey

It’s all connected indeed. These Christmas ornaments begin their journey with the caseworkers, who ensure that each of the children in their regions complete the decoration of an ornament for their sponsors.

Sponsored children in Ukraine prepare their ornaments for their sponsors.

From there, the ornaments are either dropped off or mailed to the HART Ukraine office, where project coordinator Kristina documents and sorts each one by region for shipment to the HART Calgary office.

The project coordinator of the CSP Christmas Ornament as she prepares the shipment from the HART Ukraine office to the HART Calgary office.

The sponsored children are overjoyed for the opportunity to give back, says HART president Lloyd Cenaiko.

“These ornaments are a small way for the kids to reciprocate the love their sponsors have given them throughout the year.”

Cenaiko adds that the ornaments are tokens of gratitude for HART child sponsors to treasure and a reminder to pray for their children during the Christmas season.

“I am glad and happy to make this small Christmas gift for my sponsor since he cares for me so much and sent me so many gifts,” says Halyna, a sponsored child.
“I hope he will also be happy to get this decoration from me.”

Sponsored child Valeriya has similar feelings.

“I want to make something for them with my hands so that they could feel my love and gratitude as I put part of me into this decoration,” says Valeriya.

This Christmas season, continue to pray for your sponsored children, and, if you don’t currently sponsor a child through HART, please prayerfully consider a one-year commitment to child sponsorship.

To learn more about child sponsorship through HART, call 1-888-788-3880 or visit hart.ca/child-sponsor