Lastega ja lastele

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Christmas wish tree: frequently asked questions

How do children’s wishes reach SEB Heategevusfond?
We have collected children’s Christmas wishes on the Christmas tree in cooperation with mothers, teachers and managers of the substitute homes, who collected all of the wishes and forwarded them to Santa. Estonian children growing up in substitute homes are like all other children: they are not “different” from the children in kindergarten or school who come from regular families. We cannot give them a new home or parents for Christmas, but a present is important for them. Every child wants to experience the joy and miracle of Christmas, regardless of whether they live in a substitute home, safe house, or real home.

How is the price of a present on the tree decided? How will the presents be bought?
We buy the presents based on a procurement and considering their price and quality. One of the partners of the charity project is Tallinna Kaubamaja whose extensive network of suppliers enables us to find exactly what the children wished for among the products of many electronics sellers, toy importers, confectionery manufacturers and other companies. In addition to the wished-for present, smaller gift boxes will also include confectionery and other surprises, based on the age of the child, so that they get a really big present on Christmas Eve.

How much of my donation goes to buying the present and how much to other expenses?
All of the donations from our good supporters will be used to buy the presents. Packing will be done by 75 happy volunteers of Tallinna Kaubamaja who will package the presents in beautiful wrappings. Packaging materials and all transport expenses will be covered by SEB Heategevusfond.

How do the presents reach the children?
The wish of each child is personal, and all the presents will be packed individually: all the dolls, cars, LEGO sets and everything else going to a family house will be different. The packed presents and completed gift bags will be sent out to substitute homes and safe houses across Estonia by courier service. The children will receive the presents by Christmas.

Why can’t I buy a present myself?
The Christmas tree carries the Christmas wishes of over 1100 children, as well as the wishes of substitute homes. The logistics involved with such a vast amount of presents is quite complicated and costly. We also wish to guarantee that the presents do not include used items, which has unfortunately happened on previous occasions when people could donate presents in addition to money. These are just some of the reasons why we collect monetary donations to fulfill the children’s Christmas wishes.

Is it possible to help in some other way?
The Christmas wish tree is not only for donating money. You can always contribute in some other way. For instance, many children from substitute homes and safe houses also wish for Santa in his red coat and white beard to knock on their doors on Christmas Eve and give them presents in exchange for rhymes, like Santa traditionally does. We ask all Santas to report their availability at info@heategevusfond.ee by 8 December at the latest.
Our previous experience also includes a lady who was skilled in making jewellery and had noticed a girl asking for earrings, so she made her a whole set. And an advertising agency spruced up their old computers, put these up for auction and used the proceeds to get some useful and necessary things for the substitute homes. And some handy boys built little Fjodor the garage that he had dreamed about but which was available nowhere in commercial toy stores – it was just perfect for Fjodor to put his cars to sleep every evening.

Why do children in substitute homes get such big presents at a time when even many children in regular homes do not have a mobile phone or a games console?
No one should blame children in substitute homes for having dreams like any other children. Christmas joy will be complete when wishes are fulfilled under the Christmas tree, which provides joy and benefits for a long time. The needs of the children are very different and, for instance, a mobile phone that a child can use to stay in touch with a grandmother or a brother who lives far away is not a gift that should be considered greedy or superfluous.
This year we asked the children to carefully think through their wishes and as a result we received over 1100 very different wishes of varying sizes – from shampoo and warm mittens to a custom-made zither, a bicycle, and a mobile phone.
For the bigger presents we ask for donations from groups so that together we could also make the larger wishes come true. As with the different wishes of the children, so the means of the donors are also different and we can happily say that together we have managed to make every wish come true so far.

Why does the Christmas tree include wishes of over 18-year-olds? After all, they are no longer children waiting for Santa.
A child can live in a replacement home until they become 18 years old or complete their daytime studies that have been started before the age of 18, until the age of 26. After acquiring basic or secondary education, a person can stay in the substitute home until the beginning of the next academic year if he or she passes the entrance exams to a vocational school, institution of professional higher education, or bachelor’s or master studies of a university. A person can also stay in the substitute home until he or she acquires the preliminary vocational or higher education in a vocational school, institution of professional higher education, or bachelor’s or master studies of a university. Young people in substitute homes have no support network to enable them to manage economically while still studying.
But we are looking forward to Christmas presents and feel happy about them regardless of age. The feeling of being cared about and not being alone is more important than the thing itself.

How does getting something for Christmas help the children in substitute homes?
Substitute homes and safe houses provide the children with general well-being: they receive a roof over their head and food on the table. But it lacks personal attention, which is what we aim to provide with our Christmas campaign.
In regular families, parents and grandparents combine their means to make the wishes of children come true. The children staying at our substitute homes and safe houses, unfortunately, do not have such supportive close relatives, and for them a donor’s gift is the only chance to make their dreams come true. Santa can provide some support by bringing the Christmas joy that we know and the fulfilment of worldlier wishes also to those whose home during the Christmas month will be a safe house or a substitute home (an orphanage).
Estonia is small enough so that we can get in contact with everyone in need personally, and with the help of the donors we can give the children the exact presents that they want. For a bystander, a child’s wish may just be a trinket, but a teddy bear may provide much-needed tenderness for the recipient and lipstick or deodorant may give self-assurance for a child with a difficult fate. A pair of skis may help a boy become our next top skier and an MP3 player could give someone the much-needed time alone while listening to their favourite music.

Why are there no wishes of children from Hiiumaa and Võru County on the Christmas tree?
Võru County and Hiiumaa do not have establishments that offer substitute home and safe house services to children. But this certainly does not mean that the children who live in those areas are without help. When needed, the children are offered the services in the institutions of the neighbouring counties. The wishes of children from Võru County are present this time as well, they are simply listed under the substitute homes of other areas (children from Võru County get aid from Tartu, Põlva County, and Viljandi). Hiiumaa is a fortunate county, where major problems usually get sorted out with the help of the community and they have not had to send their children to institutions on the mainland.

Why is SEB not buying the presents itself? Why should I support a bank?
The Non-Profit Association SEB Heategevusfond is not a bank; SEB Bank is our major supporter.
With support from SEB and all our kind permanent private donors we can ensure all year round that children without parental care will get something that is available to children in regular homes with the support and guidance from their mothers and fathers. The fund organises various projects in support of the children in substitute care and offers scholarships.
Additional information regarding our projects is available at www.heategevusfond.ee.

Why do Christmas presents have to be bought with donated money? Should it not be the State’s obligation?
We are of the opinion that paying attention to, as citizens, others in need and helping them is not merely about transferring money but also shows the maturity of the society and gives people an excellent opportunity to express their personal values and choices. People’s horizons become broader because they can take part in stories that they would otherwise not encounter.
Our experience with the Christmas wish tree project so far and the large number of permanent donors of the fund shows that good people notice those in need and wish to contribute. We believe that every time someone in need gets noticed, is thought about, or every cent that is spent, has great value.

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