Randolph church launches toy drive for Ukraine

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:57 PM EST
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RANDOLPH, Vt. (WCAX) - Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but a church in Randolph has its eye on Christmas, doing its part to make sure kids in Ukraine get a visit from Santa this year.

Three-year-old Abbey and her family are among the many donors giving to Randolph’s Bethany Church this year as they collect toys for Ukrainian children in the community’s sister city of Myrhorod.

The last time we visited the church last month, the congregation was holding a service to talk with their Ukrainian friends to learn about the devastation of the war. This time, they wanted to send their Christmas spirits, along with toys donated by community members.

“As a simple elf, it was important for me,” said Ann Aikens of Bethel. “In a messed-up world, to feel like you are doing something good...”

The four-day drive filled the church basement with a thousand gifts for all the families in need. Over 100 people donated to the cause, including local companies Darn Tough Vermont and Vermont Teddy Bear. “We really value the power of a teddy bear, especially children from Ukraine during this time really need something that can provide them comfort and unexpected joy,” said Vermont Teddy Bear’s Cassandra Clayton.

Izzy O’Brien, one young donor, says she donated to make other kids happy on Christmas. “When you don’t have very much hope and you are evacuated from where you live, it’s important that you have happiness. Presents make me happy,” O’Brien said.

The majority of the gifts were packed up Friday for shipment next week. Church officials are talking about doing a possible clothing drive in the near future.

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