[Utah, USA, May 20]- In October 2023, Baroness Emma Nicholson, founder of the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, reached out to D. Louise Brown, a board member of US Friends of AMAR, with a heartfelt request: to bring warmth and comfort to Ukrainian refugee children living in Romania by sending them handmade hats and scarves for their Christmas Day celebration on December 6th. Approximately 50,000 children are registered as refugees in Romania and many of them are without basic needs and resources. Diana Tascu notified the Baroness of the need for knitted hats and scarves. The items needed to be handmade to pass through Romanian customs. 

This initiative began with a spark of inspiration and a dedicated team. A Facebook page, masterfully created by AMAR’s friend Alex MicPodar and administered by Alex, Kelsey Brown, and D. Louise Brown, served as the platform for rallying support. Baroness Nicholson’s vision was simple yet profound: to create a community of compassionate individuals who could knit hats and scarves with love and care, each accompanied by a small note of encouragement.

The response was overwhelming. Momentum surged as word spread, and the Facebook page quickly amassed 139 members. People united under a common cause, driven by the desire to make a difference. As the project gained traction, donations poured in, surpassing all expectations. The phrase heard most often was, “I’m so glad I can finally do something for the people of Ukraine.” Among the contributors were church humanitarian centers, senior citizen centers, high school groups, and knitting enthusiasts, each demonstrating boundless generosity. Heartwarming stories emerged, like that of a granddaughter teaching her 88-year-old grandmother to knit, resulting in a beautiful scarf donated to the cause.

With determination, more than 2,000 handmade items were shipped to Romania before Christmas! Alex wrote, “Dear Friends, The greatest joy of the Christmas season comes from giving.  Please enjoy these photos of those sweet Ukrainian children who received your gifts—more than 2,000 sent before Christmas! They are so joyful! And grateful! Your love, coupled with skilled creation, warms not only their heads but also their hearts as they, and those who work with them, rejoice in knowing they are remembered, they are cherished, and above all, they are loved. Thank You!” Energized by the camaraderie and the success of the first shipment, the Facebook knitters continued on through the winter, leading to a final shipment and a total of 3,262 items by the end of February!

The journey was not without challenges, but through unwavering commitment and collaboration, obstacles were overcome. The knitting community kept their two promises to Baroness Nicholson: None of the items were store bought or factory made. They were all made by hand.  The other promise was that every item held a personal note to the receiver.  In some cases, a team of friends helped attach notes to the items. These generous volunteers also helped count and bag the items and put in late nights to meet deadlines. 

In reflection, the project taught valuable lessons in generosity and the profound impact of collective goodwill. It is important to give and serve, even in the face of adversity. When reflecting on lessons learned, D. Louise Brown  wrote, “Keep exact numbers, follow the rules, and say “thank you” often to every person involved—from those who created these items to those who helped count, tag, and bag them to the generous shipping group that boxed and sent them on their time. My personal thanks to my nephew, Daren Tibbits, a Logistics and Shipping manager, his shipping team who helped him box, weigh, label, send, track, and spar with Romanian Customs office, and to Daren’s company, Juniper Systems Inc. in Logan, Utah which generously allowed Daren and his team to ship these items for us. Thanks also to Kent Bowman of USFoA for handling the invoices in such a professional and timely manner. We also learned the lesson that Emma spoke of when she gave this assignment:  That most people want to give and serve, but many don’t have money to do so.  So when they were offered an alternative way, their response was phenomenal.”

As we celebrate the culmination of this remarkable endeavor, we want to express our deepest gratitude to every single person who has contributed to our handmade warmth project. From knitting hats and scarves to sharing words of encouragement and facilitating local donations, your efforts have made a profound impact on the lives of Ukrainian refugee children. Special thanks to Daren Tibbits and Juniper Systems Inc. for their generous support in making the shipping process possible. Their commitment and logistical expertise were indispensable, ensuring that each handmade creation reached its destination with care. 

Together, we knit warmth and hope for Ukrainian refugee children, reminding them that they are remembered, cherished, and loved. With over 3,000 handmade items shipped to Ukrainian refugee children in Romania, we have truly made a difference in their lives. But our journey doesn’t end here. Inspired by Baroness Emma Nicholson’s vision, we will continue spreading warmth and hope to those in need. Together, we can create a brighter future for all. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this incredible journey. Let’s continue spreading love and warmth to those in need, one stitch at a time!

 

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