Lastega ja lastele

Auhinnaga „Lastega ja lastele“ täname ja tunnustame inimesi ja organisatsioone, kelle uued algatused või pikemaajaline tegevus on positiivselt mõjutanud laste ja perede käekäiku.
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Christmas wish tree: Frequently asked questions about the Christmas Wish Tree

SEB Heategevusfond’s special project “Christmas Wish Tree” is taking place for the eighth time this year, and its goal is to bring Christmas joy to children living in safe houses and substitute homes all over Estonia. We have gathered about 1000 weighed gift wishes and hope to fulfil these dreams with the help of nice donors, wrap the gifts, and get them into Santa’s gift bag on time.

How do children’s wishes reach SEB Heategevusfond?

We collected the children’s Christmas wishes on the Christmas tree in cooperation with mothers and managers of the substitute homes, who collected all of the wishes and children’s letters-drawings, and forwarded them to Santa. Estonian children growing up in substitute homes are like all other children: they are not “different” from those 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. All children yearn to receive a part of the Christmas joy, whether they live in a substitute home, safe house, or real home.

How will the presents be obtained?

We buy the presents based on a procurement, and considering their price and quality. One of our partners, who has been part of the charity project for three years already, is 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?

One hundred percent of the amounts donated during the “Christmas Wish Tree” project shall be put towards purchasing the selected presents. Packaging materials and all transport expenses will be covered by SEB Heategevusfond. Kaubamaja joyful volunteers will help to wrap the wished for items into beautiful gifts.

How do the presents reach the children?

The wish of each child is personal, and all the presents will be packed individually in the office of the elves: all the dolls, cars, LEGO sets, and everything else going to the same family house will be different. The gift bags, put together by the volunteers from Kaubamaja, will be sent out to the substitute homes and safe houses across Estonia with the help of a courier service. The children will receive the presents at their Christmas parties.

Why can’t I buy/donate a present myself?

The “Christmas Wish Tree” has about 1000 gift wishes. 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 only some of the reasons why we collect donations to fulfil children’s Christmas wishes.

How else could I help?

The Christmas wish tree is not only for donating money. You can always contribute in some other way. For instance, several substitute homes and safe houses are awaiting a visit from Santa Claus this year, who would knock on their door on the eve of the Christmas party, wearing a red coat and a white beard, and would play the part of the real Santa, giving children presents in exchange for verses. We ask all Santas to report their availability at info@heategevusfond.ee by 12 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 of original jewellery. 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 a little boy the garage that he had dreamed about, but which was unavailable in toy stores – it was just perfect for him to put his cars to sleep every evening. Wishes of family houses, which are more expensive than individual wishes, shall be fulfilled with joint donations: for instance, friends collect money or a “gingerbread market” shall be organised at work, the proceeds of which shall be donate to the “Christmas Wish Tree”, etc. - there are many ways to help.

Why do children in substitute homes get presents at a time when even many children in regular homes do not have a mobile phone or a game console?

Estonian children growing up in safe houses and 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. All children yearn to receive a part of the Christmas joy, whether they live in a substitute home, safe house, or real home.

Christmas joy will be complete when wishes are fulfilled under the Christmas tree, providing joy 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. 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? They are no longer children, waiting for Santa Claus?

A child can live in a replacement home until they reach 18 years of age or until the age of 26 while they complete daytime studies that were started prior to reaching the age of 18. 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. 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. Parents and grandparents combine their means for a child growing in a regular family, in order to fulfil the child’s dreams. 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 all know - along with the fulfilment of worldlier wishes - to those whose home during Christmas 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 have dreamt of. 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 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. The worldview held by people is expanding because they are becoming a part of stories they would otherwise probably never have encountered.

Our experience with the “Christmas Wish Tree” project so far and the 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 euro that is spent, has great value.
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 happy county where big problems are mainly solved with the help of community and they do not have to send their children to the mainland to live in institutions.

When do children need support the most?

A Christmas present occupies a certain place, providing a child with the singular experience of being noticed. At the same time, we also challenge good-willed Estonians to invite 3 friends to join them and contribute 1 to 3 euros each month per child or youth. Doing so allows an athletically inclined child to use the hobby scholarship programme to participate in competitions or in a sports camp. A young person who is living in a substitute home and studying a vocation in an occupational school or attending university shall receive the support required for purchasing learning tools, etc. 

Children living in a substitute home need to be noticed 12 months a year. Even a monthly donation of 1 euro gives children the opportunity to be part of different experiences: be it something that stirs the desire for discovery, challenges their knowledge, or teaches them a new skill. 

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 children staying in substitute care and offers scholarships.

Additional information regarding our projects is available at www.heategevusfond.ee.


 

Participate Thank you, if you have already supported our charity programme or if you are going to do it in the future! Sign a standing payment order contract in SEB Internet Bank for 3 euros a month or support with a single donation.