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Small Deeds of Love

BY Maxine Carill, ICEJ AID 

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ICEJ’s Homecare head nurse, Corrie van Maanen, has had a more difficult task caring for her elderly Ukrainian housebound patients. Many have followed the news with aching hearts for family members still in Ukraine.

Flowers for the Elderly

In those early days of shock and disbelief, Corrie took a small gift to each patient in her weekly visits to represent the love and prayers coming from Christians around the world. She gave a small pot with blue and yellow spring flowers to a lady who has a son and daughter-in-law, sister, and other family members still in Ukraine. The dear lady cried when she saw the colors of the Ukrainian flag displayed in the flowers! Her response spoke volumes: “These flowers are alive.”

Many of these older immigrants that Corrie assists remember well another invasion. They have memories of a terrified flight, massacres, and losing loved ones as the Jews were systematically hunted down. For example, as a teenager, Zachar was placed in a ghetto in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, from where Jews were taken out, shot, and buried in mass graves. He escaped only to be caught and placed in an overcrowded concentration camp, where children and adults died of starvation every day. Amazingly, young Zachar escaped from this place where only 1,200 Jews survived out of 11,000 total.

As Zachar, one of Corrie’s patients who is blind, listens to the news, he is reminded of a terrible period in his life. The news of the war in Ukraine makes his spirit heavy. Corrie’s weekly visits to encourage and cheer him up are more important now than ever.

Toys for Orphans

Gestures of love can take many forms. Sometimes gifts from the nations come in forms other than financial. I C E J Homecare recently received two large bags of stuffed sheep toys from a 93-year-old lady. Corrie happily accepted the gift and began thinking about where it could be the biggest blessing in Israel. Less than 24 hours later, she heard that 100 Jewish orphans were on their way from Ukraine who would appreciate these cuddly toys.

When the lady who donated the sheep collection heard that they had found a home with these children, she was filled with joy.

Blankets and Diapers for Babies

Meanwhile, boxes full of hand-knitted baby blankets had just arrived from the Netherlands when a request came from a social worker: new Ukrainian immigrant families with babies who urgently needed diapers. So Homecare quickly purchased some, placed them in bags along with the blankets, and then handed over these parcels of love to the delight of the social worker. It was a gift that said: “You are not alone; we are thinking of you!”

Such small deeds of love, conveying a sincere message of hope and comfort in these troubled times, are a part of I C E J Homecare’s role

Please continue to support the wonderful work of ICEJ Homecare. Through your giving, more elderly and disabled Jews can receive comfort and care.