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A displaced Ukrainian father has asked for Legos for his son.  The gifts poured in.

When 11-year-old Andrii Sidorov fled Kyiv in late February, he packed a small suitcase with essentials. He had no choice but to leave behind his precious Lego collection.

“He was so sad,” said his father, Igor Sidorov, who drove with two of his four sons to Vienna on February 23, just before Russia launched its assault on Ukraine. His two eldest sons, aged 19 and 16, remained to fight in the war. Their mother also remained in kyiv.

“The situation was not good,” said Sidorov, whose youngest son is 8. “It wasn’t safe.”

On March 15, the father and son flew from Vienna to Galway, Ireland, after the country waived visa requirements for Ukrainians and offered access to healthcare and d ‘other advantages. Since the start of the war at the end of February, more than 5,500 Ukrainian refugees have entered Ireland.

While they were physically safe, Sidorov said, Andrii felt lost without his Legos to soothe and occupy him. Ever since he was little, playing with Legos has been his favorite pastime.

“My son started building with Lego at age 3,” Sidorov said, explaining that Andrii spent many hours a day creating intricate creations.

“All the time he makes different toys,” Sidorov said.

Without instruction manuals and using his imagination, he made complex trucks, ships and robots. Over the years he has acquired thousands of pieces and cherished his vast collection.

In Ireland, Sidorov tried to make the transition from settling in a new country as easy as possible. For Andrii, he knew that meant finding him some Lego bricks to play with.

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Sidorov, who worked as a regional sales manager in Ukraine, decided to post a plea on Facebook in several groups, including “Ukrainians in Ireland”, on March 28.

He explained that his son is “engaged in designing and building various Lego toys at an uneducated semi-professional level”, adding that his child is a “very intelligent boy”.

“We left all our Legos in Ukraine,” Sidorov wrote. ” Help me please ! We need any lego, any size and color in any quantity.

His son is so passionate about Legos, in fact, that just over a year ago he started a YouTube channel and an Instagram account, where he chronicles his creations. Andrii enjoys posting photos and videos, engaging with others who share his enthusiasm.

Sidorov knew that having Lego to play with would ease his son’s anxiety and provide him with a much-needed distraction.

Much to Sidorov’s delight, his online appeal worked. Within 24 hours, dozens of parcels full of new and lightly used Lego sets began pouring into the Galmont Hotel & Spa, where Irish social services placed the family.

“There are Legos all around me. At the reception, in the hall, everywhere,” said Sidorov, who said he was both stunned and touched by the overwhelming show of support.

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Foreigners from all over the world – including the United States, Britain, Australia and across Europe – have been shipping all kinds of Lego sets, with around 45 packages arriving so far. “Now my child has more Lego than before,” he said.

With packages arriving one after another, he is “always smiling,” Sidorov said.

“Every day when he comes home from school he picks the next box and builds,” Sidorov said, adding that his sons are starting to adjust to life in Ireland, thanks to the kindness of others. “I think they are happy to be here.”

Sidorov does not yet know if his family will stay in Ireland permanently, or if they will ever return to Kyiv or perhaps move elsewhere.

“The first thing for me is to save my children and give them a happy life,” he said. “I must not think of myself, but of my children.”

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Andrii, for his part, is starting to feel more at home now that he’s surrounded by Legos again.

“Glory to Ireland!” he wrote in an Instagram post, featuring a Lego creation of an Irish flag. “Thank you to all these wonderful and very kind people with very big hearts!”

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