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Christmas parcels for the elderly: Surprise to help combat loneliness

Christmas parcels for the elderly : Surprise to help combat loneliness

Five young women are packing 120 Christmas presents for the residents of the Johanniterhaus. They want to bring some joy to the elderly who are alone at Christmas.

Five women between the ages of 24 and 28 have come up with a special campaign for the residents of the Johanniterhaus. Based on the German ‘Christmas in a Shoebox’ campaign (see info box), the friends will distribute 120 surprise packages to the elderly residents on Christmas Eve. They were already busy packing on Sunday and managed to pile up many colourful parcels in the prayer room.

Every year, Anna-Lena Burdick (29), Carla König (27), Britta Münz (28) and Lena (24) and Olivia-Joy Antes (27) think about how they can do a good deed. And this is what the five friends were doing a few months ago when they sat together over breakfast. The women quickly agreed on the idea of giving small gift boxes to the residents of the Johanniterhaus on Christmas Eve. "Because of the Corona pandemic, elderly people are spending a lot of time alone this year and will also be on their own at Christmas. That's why we want to do something to bring some joy," said Olivia-Joy Antes, who is also head of the social services at the Johanniterhaus.

But to be able put the idea into practice, the women had to rely on help from outside. Lena Antes presented the idea in a circular letter sent to various companies, institutions and volunteers. The response was positive, Antes reported. "In total, 1300 euros were collected in donations and we received many material donations as well". Among them were chocolates and pralines from an online shop in Meckenheim, as well as calendars and lotions from a pharmacy in the neighbourhood. A hotel also brought bags of Christmas biscuits. "We used the money to buy a wide variety of things that we believe the pensioners will like, such as tea, Christmas stollen, mandalas and creams. All donations go directly to the residents," said Antes.

The Beethoven School also participated in the campaign. The primary school pupils made and wrote 120 Christmas cards for the elderly. "Among other things, the children came up with tips for the seniors on what to do to combat loneliness, such as reading a good book." To give the parcels their Christmas sparkle, confirmation students from Niederbachem wrapped the boxes in colourful paper. "I find it so lovely and heart-warming that so many different institutions have taken part. They all agreed to join in straight away," said Antes.

The women divided into two teams to complete their packing on Sunday. König, Münz and Lena Antes walked around between the stations and filled up the parcels one after the other. "The boxes pass through all the stations once. So the Christmas stollen, soap, tea, calendars, mandalas, creams and sweets go into all the parcels," Burdick explained. She and Olivia-Joy Antes then took the filled packages and personalised them. "As head of the social services here, I know the residents very well and how we can respond to their individual needs," said Antes. The bedridden were therefore given cuddly socks and other residents were given little happiness calendars instead of crossword puzzles. The Christmas cards from the primary school pupils also found their way into the boxes. "The pupils personalised the cards with Dear Madam and Dear Sir," explained Burdick, who sorted the greetings. Of course, a surprise package could not be without a bow - that came at the very end.

The shoe boxes will remain safely stored for a few more days before they are allowed to put a smile on the residents’ faces. "We will distribute the boxes together on Christmas Eve, going from living room to living room," Burdick announced. She especially liked the fact that she could carry out the project together with her friends. "That's great, of course, because we're a tight-knit team and we've helped out in other ways at the Johanniterhaus," she said. The women have already been shopping for the residents and have helped to register visitors. A little surprise has also been prepared for the residents of the 58 service apartments across the street. "A hotel has baked biscuits. We'll give them to the residents there on Christmas Eve," said Antes.

(Original text: Niklas Schröder, Translation: Caroline Kusch)