Message in an aid package: Italian girl sends hope to Ukrainian children

Volunteers in Rome pack humanitarian goods to be sent to Ukraine
Humanitarian goods to be loaded onto trucks as first aid transport to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are seen at Santa Sofia Church, a religious and cultural center for Ukrainian expatriates in Rome, Italy March 3, 2022 , seen. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

March 4, 2022

By Antonio Denti and Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME (Reuters) – Gioia Maria, a 10-year-old Italian girl, says she would like to do more for people suffering from the war in Ukraine “but I am very small”.

So she prays every night. And she wants Ukrainian children to know.

The girl wrote a letter in her best English on a large piece of yellow paper and gave it to her mother to take her to a church to collect food, medicine and clothing for the reception of refugees in Ukraine and border areas.

“Dear Ukrainian friends, my name is Gioia Maria. And I’m Italian. I am very sorry for this terrible war. I am very close to you with my heart. I would love to do more, but I’m very small and far away. Every night I pray for you and I ask God to help you. With love. Gioia Maria.” Six heart signs follow her name.

Her mother, Katherine Valerio, said Gioia Maria used her savings to buy gifts for Ukrainian children to send along with the letter.

“I have two daughters, a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old, and they ask me why all of this is happening and most importantly, they ask me how they can help these kids,” she said amidst the hubbub of volunteers receiving sorting and pack donations in front of the Santa Sofia church on the outskirts of Rome.

The parish of Rome’s Ukrainian Catholic community has become a magnet for donations from across the Italian capital. The appeal was so successful that volunteers have to direct cars coming into the parking lot.

“We hope this war will end as soon as possible. We are concerned because Ukraine is our homeland, the country where we were born and where we want to return,” said Rev. Marko Yaroslav Semehen. “People feel a great sense of injustice.”

Gioia Maria hopes her letter will help ease some of the pain.

(Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams) Message in an aid package: Italian girl sends hope to Ukrainian children

Bobby Allyn

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