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Making it a happy new year for young Ukrainians

KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave., last Friday hosted a celebration to welcome in the new year for about 100 children and family members from war-torn Ukraine.

The event featured a snow globe craft, decorating prop Christmas trees with ornaments, food, music, gifts and appearances by the Grinch, a Snow Maiden and Grandfather Frost.

The kids had some fun throwing Styrofoam balls at the Grinch.

Most of the children are enrolled in KleinLife’s KidSpace program, which includes hot meals, robotics, swimming, gym time, theater shows, arts and crafts and art therapy.

The refugees are supported by private donations and the KleinLife Grow Hope campaign, which also places the youngsters in KleinLife’s summer camp.

KleinLife vice president Victoria Faykin organized the gathering, handing the microphone to children so they could recite poems on winter, snow and the new year, spoken in both Ukrainian and English.

“That’s kind of an American success story,” Andre Krug, KleinLife’s Ukraine-born president and CEO, said of the children learning to speak English.

Krug said Ukrainians continue to resettle locally, but not at the numbers following Russia’s invasion in early 2022.

KleinLife has a doctor and a dentist on site to assist, along with a food pantry and English as second language classes.

The agency has also been closely involved in handling school enrollment for the refugees.

“People are still coming, and we’re still trying to help them out navigating the system,” Krug said.

Since the war began, KleinLife has assisted refugees in areas such as schooling, housing, employment, food, clothing, medical, dental and language.

To make a donation to assist the Ukrainian refugees, go to https://kleinlife.org/growhope/. ••

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