President Volodymyr Zelensky presented 40 Ukrainian volunteers helping the military and civilians with the Golden Heart state awards on Dec. 5, the Presidential Office reported.
The ceremony took place in Kyiv to mark International Volunteer Day, mandated by the UN General Assembly to pay tribute to volunteers worldwide.
"In my opinion, it is symbolic that this day is celebrated on the eve of the Day of Ukraine's Armed Forces because Ukrainian volunteers are, in fact, another type of troops, another force of ours. Our guard of those who care. Our army of active Ukrainians," Zelensky said at the event.
When Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Kyiv struggled to fully equip thousands of newly-mobilized soldiers with crucial equipment, including combat gear and vehicles.
Since Russia's first invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and over the course of the all-out war, many Ukrainian service members have relied on campaigns organized by local charities and volunteers to obtain desperately needed supplies.
Zelensky awarded representatives of volunteer organizations and movements that "have contributed to the country's defense, the protection of the population and the interests of the state in connection with Russia's military aggression and overcoming its consequences," according to the President's Office.
Those who received the awards in person included Alona Aivazian, Volodymyr Anisimov, Davyd Dzhalahoniia, Andrii Zarichanskyi, Nataliia Kartasheva, Tata Kepler, Liudmyla Kucher, Vitalii Lyfar, Maksym Mostovyi, Yurii Tyra, Serhii and Anastasia Rybalchenko.
They have been reportedly helping provide the military with supplies, evacuate wounded soldiers, and provide humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons.
"I am very grateful to you for what you do every day, all these years, all this time. And to everyone who helps the Security and Defense Forces, who protects the country, who's helping on the front lines, on the ground," Zelensky added.
"As long as your volunteer hearts keep beating and your spirit of help and support (remains), our people will be fighting, and Ukraine will be fighting. It fights non-stop, and we fight. Therefore, all of us will definitely win."
The Golden Heart award was established by Zelensky in December last year to mark the significant achievements of Ukrainian volunteers.