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Scranton Church Helps Orphans 4,500 Miles Away

December 17, 2018

SCRANTON — Their needs range from winter boots, coats and pajamas to vitamins and over-the-counter medications.

Although the orphaned children are about 4,500 miles away in Ukraine, envelopes scrawled with their names, ages and needs are a call to arms for parishioners of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on North Seventh Avenue in the city.

For the past four years, the church has sent thousands of pounds of clothing, candy, vitamins and medicine to two orphanages in Kolomyia and Fastiv in Ukraine. The Rev. Myron Myronyuk works closely with directors of the orphanages, receiving frequent updates on the children and lists of what they need.

He writes information about each child on an envelope, placing them at the front of the church for parishioners to donate what they can.

“It’s God’s call,” Myronyuk said. “God calls us and reminds us that we have to share. We have to share our blessing wherever we can.”

There are about 26 children between the two orphanages, ranging from around 4 to 14 years old, Myronyuk said. His church sends between 15 and 20 packages every year, with each package weighing about 50 to 60 pounds.

“Thank God they’re not hungry ... but they need so many things,” he said.

Myronyuk, 47, was ordained in Ukraine and spent much of his life there, moving to the United States only 11 years ago. While he worked to become a priest, he spent time working in orphanages.

“I saw that struggle,” he said, explaining that he also grew up in a poor family. “I understand that it’s not easy. ... That’s why we’re trying all the time to help them.”

His parishioners donate everything from winter coats, gloves, hats, socks and boots to pajamas and slippers for frigid Ukrainian winters and cold nights at the orphanage, he said. The orphanages are heated to only about 60 or 65 degrees, so pajamas and slippers are vital at night.

Paul Ewasko, one of the church’s parishioners and donors, has attended St. Vladimir for the past 83 years. His wife emigrated from Ukraine when she was a child, he said, so sponsoring the orphanages “means something very special” to them.

“When the packages arrive, the excitement is deafening,” Ewasko said, emphasizing the importance of the children seeing they have people who care about them.

Whenever the orphanages receive the church’s care packages, they send Myronyuk photos of the children wearing their new clothing.

“They would be thrilled they had something nice and fancy,” Myronyuk said, laughing as he explained that the kids call the clothing fancy.

Flipping through his phone, he showed a handful of photos he received from the orphanages. One photo shows a group of young girls wearing dresses with white stockings and pink sneakers smiling at their orphanage in Kolomyia.

With six children of his own ranging from 2 to 14 years old, the orphans hit close to home for Myronyuk. When he visited one of the orphanages four years ago, he said children approached him asking, “Are you my daddy?”

“You can’t imagine how hard (it is),” he said. “I just feel sorry for them. They want to say daddy and mom. They never say that.”

Contact the writer:

flesnefsky@timesshamrock.com;

570-348-9100 x5181;

@flesnefskyTT on Twitter

How to help

To donate to the orphanages, items can be dropped off at 430 N. Seventh Ave., Scranton. Call the church office at 570-342-7023 to arrange a drop-off time.

Items needed include:

• Diapers.

• Winter clothing (coats, gloves, hats, boots, heavy socks, etc.).

• Pajamas.

• Sneakers.

• Slippers.

• Toothbrushes and toothpaste.

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