Your club is one of the oldest at ITMO. How was it founded? Has the club grown over the years of its existence? 

The club was created back in 2014 by Yulia Usikova. Back then, it was a project that organized New Year’s performances for children in hospitals – hence the name “Celebration for Children”. Since then, our project has broadened the spectrum of its activities and now we visit children not only on New Year’s Eve but also on Children’s Day (June 1) in summer or with workshops during the school year. 

There are plenty of event announcements on your VK page. What are the club’s main areas of activity? 

First of all, we host arts & crafts workshops. Children in hospitals receive a lot of attention during the holiday season, which is sadly not true for the rest of the year. That’s why we rush to color in the gray hospital reality of our young friends. New Year’s and summer performances are an integral activity of our club, and that is why every year we encourage people to donate New Year presents for children.

Our club is growing and we are constantly coming up with new activities to give more to children. 

How do you select the hospitals for your events? Have you ever encountered any difficulties? 

What would we do without challenges (smiles). We already have a database of hospitals that we regularly contact. Now, however, we had to pause the club’s core activities due to the pandemic. 

Other beneficiaries contact us themselves, or sometimes they find us on volunteering forums. 

Where do you get ideas for your events and workshops? Are there any essential elements to the creative process? 

The more volunteers we have, the more ideas there are (smiles). I love our club for this opportunity to get inspiration from the people around you. Everyone has their own interests, we are so different, and this helps us create new exciting workshops. 

As for our performances, those are the result of long discussions. We try to bring all of our ideas together or find a compromise. 

What does a typical day of a volunteer look like? 

The workshops usually go like this: first, volunteers get in touch one more time to make sure that they can both make it and go over their plan. One of them would typically pick up the necessary equipment. On the way to the location, they determine their roles once again. Then they arrive, change, and prepare the space where they will host a workshop. After the event is over, they collect the equipment and clean the space. And finally, when they come home, they write a report and upload pictures and feedback. 

Do you keep in touch with the children for whom you create these events and workshops? 

I’d say no. There are usually different children every time we visit, which makes us really happy – it means they’re already feeling better. Parents and grandparents of the children whom we visited subscribe to our VK page and thank us in the comments. 

Do you organize any events now, during the pandemic? 

Currently, the main activities of our club remain on hold. That is why we’ve started a new branch of our activity – we are helping families that are facing financial difficulties, and we are glad we can do it at any time. For instance, we are planning an event where every student and staff member will be able to donate something from the list that will be published on our VK page. Stay tuned to the announcements there, so as not to miss the event. 

As for online activities, they are on their way. We’ve come up with ideas for new projects with the volunteers, and very soon we will be ready to share them with the world. 

What kind of people are you always ready to welcome as volunteers? 

People with a spark in their eyes! They are always ready to join in on any activity and they will take part in any workshop and event we organize at the club. With such driven people, I will always be sure of our club’s bright future. 

If you want to learn more about student clubs at ITMO, check out our interview with ITMO.GREEN, the university’s eco-club; our catch-up with the Intelligentsia culture club; an in-depth interview about the Buddy System; and a chat about all things beauty with ITMakeup.