Durham independent jewellery shop makes Christmas for Ukrainian orphans

<img src="https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/MK3D7P31UXNcRwHTK208Jg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MDtjZj13ZWJw/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_northern_echo_uk_642/5e0fcd3a9326fb7f06fb429f6089c554&quot; alt="Moon Jewellers has raised thousands for Ukraine since the war began. <i>(Image: Graham Soult, Mocna Fundacja)
Moon Jewellers has raised thousands for Ukraine since the war began. (Image: Graham Soult, Mocna Fundacja)

An independent jeweller in Durham City has gathered hundreds of gifts for orphans in Ukraine, helping to brighten children’s first Christmas after the conflict began.

Moon, run by Jo Soulsby, a Polish ex-pat, collected hundreds of donations from the Durham community, with customers, businesses, schools, friends and fellow mums all chipping in. Last week, 160 shoeboxes filled with toys and food were delivered to the orphanages in Velykyi Liubin, Jasen and Zhuravno, ahead of Orthodox Christmas (January 7).

This is just the latest in Moon’s fundraising efforts; when the war commenced, the independent jeweller sent a lorry of humanitarian aid to Poland to support the country as it dealt with the influx of Ukrainian refugees.

The Northern Echo: Jo Soulsby travelled to Ukraine to provide aid this summer.
The Northern Echo: Jo Soulsby travelled to Ukraine to provide aid this summer.

Jo Soulsby travelled to Ukraine to provide aid this summer. (Image: Jo Soulsby)

When the situation stabilized, Jo, alongside volunteers from the Polish charity Mocna Fundacja, went to Ukraine over the summer to deliver necessities to orphanages in the region.

About her experience in July, Jo said: “I visited orphaned children and learnt about their terrible living conditions, lack of basics to cater for disabilities, and the reality of living in a warzone. The children didn’t have anything.”

In the western cities of Ukraine, there are many Ukrainian children without parents, as children have fled from areas of intense fighting. This ingress overstretched orphanages’ already thin resources – leaving them without supplies to look after kids, some of whom were in a “terrible” condition, both mentally and physically.

The Northern Echo: 160 boxes of gifts were delivered to children in Ukrainian orphanages.
The Northern Echo: 160 boxes of gifts were delivered to children in Ukrainian orphanages.

160 boxes of gifts were delivered to children in Ukrainian orphanages. (Image: Jo Soulsby)

Jo added: “After my return, I felt even more determined to make a change. We knew Christmas was going to be very difficult, and for a lot of children, this would be their first Christmas without their parents.

“But our community has shown such integrity by helping those less fortunate. It was so heartwarming,  and it made our Christmas very special.”

Rather than Santa with a sleigh, it was three volunteers from the Polish charity Mocna Fundacja that ensured that children in orphanages could celebrate Christmas.

The Northern Echo: Orphanages in Ukraine are stretched to their limit, after children have been moved towards regions with less conflict.
The Northern Echo: Orphanages in Ukraine are stretched to their limit, after children have been moved towards regions with less conflict.

Orphanages in Ukraine are stretched to their limit, after children have been moved towards regions with less conflict. (Image: Jo Soulsby)

A truckload of Christmas gifts and food purchased by Durham communities and collected by Jo, Marek Mocny and Bartek Prychodko Katerina Suchocka embarked on a perilous journey.

Jo said: “They were sending reports throughout their journey; they experienced frequent air raid sirens, and the electricity was constantly going off, but the joy and happiness of the children made it all worthwhile. For one moment, all the children forgot that war was all around them.”

“On behalf of the children, we would like to thank everyone who supported them. We will continue with efforts to make these innocent children’s lives better. If you wish to help, please contact us directly: sales@moon-jewellery.com, or visit our store in Durham City.”

The Northern Echo: Mia and Isla Reynolds with their box for Switlana.
The Northern Echo: Mia and Isla Reynolds with their box for Switlana.

Mia and Isla Reynolds with their box for Switlana. (Image: Jo Soulsby)

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