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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

UMN Christian student group writes letters to Ukrainian refugees

Reformed University Fellowship partnered with Minnesota nonprofit Letters of Love to write handwritten, personalized letters of support just over a year after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Some+students+said+writing+letters+was+a+way+to+show+they+care+and+to+learn+more+about+the+situation.+
Image by Amirah Razman
Some students said writing letters was a way to show they care and to learn more about the situation.

On Thursday, the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) gathered at Coffman Union to write letters to Ukrainian refugees in Europe following the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war.

RUF is a student-led Christian ministry group that hosts service events and weekly Bible study groups. They partnered with Letters of Love, a Minnesota-based nonprofit, which typically sends notes of encouragement to children battling cancer and other illnesses but committed to deliver letters to Ukrainian refugees living in Europe.

RUF often engages in service-based events, such as cleaning up trash around campus, and their letter-writing event is a way for members to showcase their creativity while fostering empathy for victims of the ongoing war, according to group members.

“There’s something so beautiful about a handwritten note that will bring a lot of peace to the refugees, especially those who are dealing with a lot of hardship right now,” RUF President Madison Holman said.
After the letters are written, RUF will send them to Letters of Love’s Colorado site, who will then review all letters before mailing them to Ukrainian refugees with the help of their partners, including a Chicago Rotary Club, according to their website.

An avenue for caring and education

Clara Kilgas, a third-year student who oversees event planning for RUF, said it feels difficult for people to make an impact on a community that is dealing with so much violence and trauma, but letter-writing is one way for people to show they care.

“If refugees open up an individualized card that is positive or inspirational, hopefully they’ll know that people are thinking about them and that people care for them,” Kilgas said. “Even though we can’t begin to understand what they’re going through, they can open this card and feel loved.”

The event also serves as a way for students to learn about and be aware of the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

“There’s a lot in the news of what’s going on,” Holman said. “Hopefully there will be an education aspect to this by saying ‘Hey, this is what is happening in Ukraine, this is what’s happening with the refugees.’”

Mae Jaeger, a student who attended the letter-writing event, said it is important to show support to Ukrainian refugees despite fluctuation in news coverage of the situation.

“Even if there’s not something I can do physically or be present with them in person, I hope it’s comforting to know that we’re not forgetting them,” Jaeger said.

Jaeger said she is inspired by college students who actively help their community and raise awareness about global issues.

“It’s an age where you are starting to go into an active role within our jobs and community, and I think there’s a certain responsibility that comes with that by getting involved in political change in a more active role,” Jaeger said.

Second-year student McKenna Lewis said she hopes her letters will bring a smile to the refugees’ faces.

“Some people might be around the same age [as us], so knowing that there are people around their age or older caring for them can bring a lot of hope,” Lewis said.

The letter-writing event was the first of its kind for RUF, and Holman said they hope to host similar events in the future.

“If people really enjoy this project, I would guess that we would plan more events like this or maybe partner with Letters of Love again and tap into the creative aspect of it again,” Holman said.

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