Jackson, MO Native Launches Website Showcasing Art from Ukraine's Orphans
April 3, 2010 -- She grew-up in Jackson MO and attended Jackson High School where she was known for her incredible talent as a musician. Jessica (Terry) Tosser spent many hours playing and teaching children how to play the flute before graduating in 2000. Now she's fighting to give homeless children the basic necessities of life in a distant country.
Jessica attended college in Kansas City, where she met her husband Keegan. The two educators decided to spend two years teaching in Ukraine before returning to the states. Their involvement with the orphanage led to the exposure of dire need. So they are taking action!
Founders of Artful Giver, Keegan and Jessica created a website displaying art from the orphaned children in Ukraine. The website, www.artfulgiver.org, allows people to bid for children's artwork. The highest donation receives the art and a picture of the child as a gift.
Keegan and Jessica are currently teaching at Kyiv International School in Kyiv, Ukraine. While living there for the past year, they saw the need these children have and the impact that can be made. Orphans in Ukraine receive minimal funding from their government. Therefore, the children have no material possessions. They share the food they eat and the clothes they wear.
"We have been asked to bring sugar for cooking to the orphanage before," says Jessica. "They were out of sugar and did not have enough money to go buy it on their own. It cost us ten dollars to give them sugar for a week! That is how little they have and how easy it is to help."
When visiting Sunshine Orphanage in Krivoy Rog, Ukraine, Keegan and Jessica walked into the small art room and were amazed at the talent many of these children possess. The art room in the orphanage in Ukraine is covered with paintings created by the children from donated art supplies.
Art is one of the few things these children can truly call their own. Yet they are very willing to give their artwork to others who have much more than they do. Jessica explains, "These children have set an example for both children and adults to follow. If everyone was as giving as these children, the world would be a much better place."
Art is important for these children. Art allows children to express themselves, become more patient, attentive, and appreciate beautiful things they see in the world. These children can also be proud that they are able to give back to people that have given to them. Artful Giver is unique in that it provides the opportunity for both donor and receiver to give.
About Artful Giver:
Artful Giver is a pilot program. We work with orphans in Ukraine to provide them with clothing, medicine, educational supplies, and extracurricular activities. Our hope is to expand to more orphanages in the future.
For additional information on how you can give to orphans in Ukraine, visit www.artfulgiver.org.
Orphan profiles are below.
Volva came to the orphanage after his father died and his mother committed suicide. He was born with cerebral palsy and could not walk properly. The director of the orphanage did not have money to pay for surgery because the government would not provide the funds. Volva liked to sing and perform for guests. A group of volunteers were at the orphanage and realized the need for Volva to have surgery and donated to the cause. After the surgery, Julia, a visitor at the hospital stated, "His eyes were sparkling. He looked so excited and happy. He could not wait until he would walk normally for the first time." The surgery was only $300. This is not much when considering how this changed a little boy's life forever.
"Vika" is 9 years old. She has a brother and sister that also live with her at Sunshine Orphanage. Their parents were unable to take proper care of the children and lost their parental rights at the end of 2006. Vika and her siblings arrived at the orphanage soon after this.
Vika was very quiet and introverted when she first arrived at the orphanage. Throughout the next year she opened up more emotionally. Vika has had trouble with her vision since birth. Due to the economic and political situation in Ukraine, the orphanage did not have the funding to help her. Through donations Vika was able to get some of the medical attention she needs.