A lorry full of gifts from pupils at Lumen Christi College in Londonderry is on its way to children in Ukraine in time for Christmas.
Two hundred gift-wrapped shoeboxes are filled with toys and books in the hope of bringing a smile to the faces of traumatised children who have been left orphans or homeless because of the fighting.
Volunteers including Ukrainians who have made their home in Northern Ireland packed the vehicle with other humanitarian aid before it started on its 1500-mile journey.
Sylwia Lis who is originally from Poland and now living here helped organise the donations.
She said: “For those kids, the day-to-day reality is missiles, tears and ongoing stress.
"So in the boxes, there are loads of toys, colouring books, pencils, and even bath bombs.
"There are also sweets.”
She went on: “Whatever the College students could gather and thought would be nice for the children, they put in the box. It will put a smile on Ukrainian children's faces on Christmas”.
Ukrainian people are facing another very difficult winter against the backdrop of Putin's aggression. But the gifts, along with other humanitarian aid also donated by people in Derry, will go some way to easing their ordeal. The gesture is not lost on Ukrainians who have made their home here.
“All the people are very friendly,” said Natalia Tikhonowh, one of the volunteers.
She does not speak much English but she paused from packing the lorry for a moment to pay tribute to the generosity of people in Northern Ireland. “I would like to thank them for their support and their help”.
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