Children add heartfelt messages to parcels sent to Ukraine

Editor’s Note: This story is part of the annual Mosaic journalism workshop for Bay Area high school students a two-week intensive course in journalism. Students of the program report and photograph stories under the guidance of professional journalists.

When 7-year-old Zane Zeidler saw the news about the war in Ukraine, he became alarmed and wanted to find ways to help.

The war had gone on for over 100 days, and Zane was stressed by the impending crisis because he knew a classmate whose grandmother was in Ukraine, according to his mother, Dr. Kamakshi Zeidler.

“War is very difficult to explain to a seven-year-old child,” Zeidler said. “But I know that there are children who have suffered, and this is not fair. It’s important for him to understand what his friend is going through.”

Around the same time, Zeidler, who heads Campbell’s Aestethx plastic surgery company, received a request from her nurse to send packages to Ukraine.

“I have a nurse from Ukraine who worked with Hearts for Ukraine and she asked if she could donate her salary to buy medicines through Aestetx,” Zeidler said. “And I told her that we can definitely do more.”

People wait outside to enter the Hearts for Ukraine warehouse in San Jose, California on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Saira Ahmed for Mosaic Journalism)

The company donated nearly $20,000 worth of all of its medical supplies to the Hearts for Ukraine NGO in San Jose. The donation consisted of IV fluids, respiratory supplies and other sterile medical supplies. The organization sent more than 15 tons of cargo to Ukrainian hospitals, shelters, schools, orphanages, nursing homes, refugee support centers and the territorial defense forces of Ukraine.

“We’re halfway around the world.” Zeidler said. “But there are people in our community who are deeply and personally affected. And there are things we can do to actually connect with the whole world, and medical supplies are important to save lives.”

Inspired by his mother’s generosity, Zane Seidler was determined to enlist his classmates to help out as well. In May, Zane made a school announcement asking his classmates to draw a drawing and bring it to class. He collected over 50 drawings.

On June 18, Zane and his friends helped pack supplies at the warehouse with their notes for Hearts for Ukraine to be sent to the war-torn country.

Hearts for Ukraine spokesman Leon Kogan said that along with heartfelt messages, Zeidler’s donation of medical supplies will help many Ukrainian doctors and healthcare workers.

Blake Miller Holds His Drawing For Ukraine At The Hearts For Ukraine Warehouse In San Jose, California On Saturday, June 18, 2022.  Hearts For Ukraine Is An Organization That Collects Goods To Help The Ukrainian People.  (Saira Ahmed For Mosaic Journalism)
Blake Miller holds his drawing for Ukraine at the Hearts for Ukraine warehouse in San Jose, California on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Saira Ahmed for Mosaic Journalism)

“When they do the treatment and use the materials, they can at least really save lives,” Kogan said.

Elvira Dael-Kogan, Kogan’s wife, said Hearts for Ukraine helped a mother send a drawing of her son to her husband, a Ukrainian soldier on the front lines. When she heard about Zane’s initiative, she felt that it was a great pleasure for them to send letters to children in Ukraine.

“I saw a whole bunch of drawings, collages and essays.” Diel-Kogan said. “It is interesting that not only our children do this, but also Ukrainian children in Ukraine. Soldiers are so pleased to receive letters – this is the meaning of why they fight.

By the end of the event, Zeidler hoped her son and his peers “understood the power of the note” and saw the event as a way to show kids how they can make a difference, even if it’s something small.

“As a mom, I am very happy that I was able to instill in my son the values ​​that I support in my life.” Zeidler said.

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