Yelka (Christmas Tree) Celebration for Disadvantaged Children

16 years ago, RCWS organized its first “Yelka”, a modest Russian Christmas and New Year’s Party in Moscow. This past December, 800 children traveled great distances to participate in the 16th annual Yelka event at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior’s concert hall and see the holiday music show “Light of the Magical Star” while unwrapping Santa’s gifts. 

To continue the holiday tradition, RCWS personnel and volunteers, together with “Ded Moroz” (Russian Santa Claus), also visited over 140 little patients at the Moscow Center for Maxillofacial Surgery and the Sechenov Academy in Moscow to distribute gifts and bring some magic to their holiday. In spite of their debilitating conditions, and in some cases severe diagnoses, the children enthusiastically anticipate a visit from the RCWS’s Ded Moroz. The playful distraction from their ailments is a memory they hold dear and the gifts are oftentimes the only ones they receive throughout the year.