Sonitchka is all about welcoming beauty into your own life as well as bringing it to the lives of others. Proceeds of Sonitchka will be used to support the work of Open Arms Ukraine.

Sonitchka is a loose transliteration of the Russian word: солнышко, which means "sunshine." It's a nickname that was given to me by a Ukrainian orphan. The implication of this new name -- that I had made even a small difference for good in the life of this child -- helped me realize the depth of my passion for bringing light, love, and hope to the lives of orphans in Ukraine.

ONE ITEM DESIGN . $50 + printing and shipping (announcement, invitation, etc.)

Unicef reports that as many as 65,000 children in Ukraine are living in government-run orphanages. Most of these children are social orphans, having been abandoned by their parents or simply driven out by domestic violence and parental alcohol abuse.

The system does not serve these children well. Their deep-rooted issues resulting from their abandonment or loss of parents are not dealt with. Most of them will suffer from childhood trauma throughout their entire lives.

Not only are their pasts brushed aside, their futures are void of hope. These orphanage institutions fail to prepare children for life in the real world. Between the age of 15 and 17, orphans "graduate" from the orphanage system and are turned out to live on their own. At this point, most of them have never learned to shop in a grocery store, use public transportation, or have social interaction with other adults. Basic social skills that most children learn in the family environment are minimal. More advanced skills and knowledge like money management, nutrition, personal hygiene, and conflict resolution are completely lacking.

When an orphan graduates and is turned out, he or she is connected with a trade school and given a monthly stipend by the government. But, as stated previously, there has been little training in or focus on personal disciplines, and much of the time, orphans leave their schools and/or spend their stipends on alcohol and cigarettes, rather than necessities.

As you can imagine, growing up in such a volatile environment promotes instability. Statistics vary when it comes to Ukrainian orphans, but it is safe to say that many of the girls end up in prostitution, and many of the boys end up in lives of crime, imprisonment, homelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism, and early death.

One of my dearest friends, Annie Carbonaro, works full-time with these children. She lives in Ukraine and has founded a non-profit organization called Open Arms. She and a small team have dedicated themselves to serving the lost and broken children of Ukraine by meeting their needs and providing them with hope. Open Arms' focus is on the graduated orphans. They reach out to these young men and women, offering them shelter if needed, food, encouragement in school, guidance, and the assurance that they belong to a loving family.

I've personally seen the enormous difference that has been made in the lives of many orphans due to the love and guidance they've received from Open Arms. It's vital work that means the difference between success and failure, love and loneliness, and life and death for these children.

Proceeds of Sonitchka will be used to support the work that Open Arms is doing in Ukraine.

To read about + see some of the projects in Ukraine that Sonitchka has helped with, click here.

1 John 3:18
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."