Kids add heartfelt messages to care packages headed for 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 in the program report and photograph stories under the guidance of professional journalists.

When 7-year old Zane Zeidler saw the news of the war in Ukraine, he was troubled and wanted to find ways to help.

The war had been going on for more than 100 days, and Zane was stressed by the crisis at hand because he knew a classmate whose grandmother was in Ukraine, according to his mother, Dr. Kamakshi Zeidler.

“War is something very difficult to explain to a 7-year-old,” Zeidler said. “But I know there are children that are affected and that isn’t fair. It’s important for him to have an understanding of what his friend is going through.”

Around the same time, Zeidler, who heads the plastic surgery company Aesthetx in Campbell, got a request from her nurse to send care packages to Ukraine.

“I have a nurse who’s from Ukraine who worked with Hearts for Ukraine who asked if she could donate her paycheck to buy medical supplies through Aesthetx,” Zeidler said. “And I told her we can definitely do more than that.”

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 all of its warehouse stockpile of medical supplies, about $20,000 worth, to the San Jose-based grassroots organization Hearts for Ukraine. The donation consisted of IV fluids, airway supplies and other sterile medical components. The organization has sent more than 15 tons of supplies 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 here in our community that are deeply and personally affected. And there are things that we can do to actually have a touch across the world, and the medical supplies are important in saving lives.”

Inspired by his mother’s generosity, Zane Zeidler was determined to get his classmates to help, too. Zane made a school announcement in May, asking his classmates to make a drawing and bring them to his classroom. He collected more than 50 drawings.

On June 18, Zane and his friends helped package the supplies in the warehouse with their notes for Hearts for Ukraine to send to the war-torn country.

Hearts for Ukraine spokesperson Leon Kogan said that along with the heartfelt messages, Zeidler’s donation of medical supplies would help many Ukrainian doctors and health care workers.

Blake Miller holds her 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 are performing treatment and using the supplies, at least they can actually save lives,” Kogan said.

Elvira Dayel-Kogan, Kogan’s wife, said Hearts for Ukraine helped a mother send her son’s drawing to her husband, a Ukrainian soldier on the frontlines. When she heard of Zane’s initiative, she felt it was heartwarming for them to send the letters to children in Ukraine.

“I saw a whole packet of drawings, collages and writings.” Dayel-Kogan said. “It’s interesting that it’s not just our kids that do this, but actually, the Ukrainian kids in Ukraine. For soldiers, It’s so heartwarming to receive letters — it’s the meaning of why they fight.“

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

“As a mom, I’m very happy that I could instill values in my son that I uphold in my own life.” Zeidler said.

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