Children’s home receives pile of gifts

The pile of presents is enormous, but the smiles on the children’s faces will be even bigger. The recipients are residents at Elisabethstift in Pankow – one of Berlin’s longest-running children’s homes – and the presents are being provided by members of Oliver Daumke’s and two other working groups. The idea behind the initiative came from Austrian PhD Student Manuel Hessenberger: “My wife and I do this every year,” says Manuel. “We call up a children’s home and ask to be sent a bunch of letters written to Father Christmas. As we are originally from Austria, we used to support the children’s home in Salzburg. In early 2013, however, we moved to Berlin, and we decided that this time we wanted to give the gifts to German kids in a German home.”

However, Elisabethstift in Berlin’s Pankow district usually asks that a minimum of 30 gift requests be ordered rather than individual letters; this way all the children in one of the houses receive a present and nobody feels left out. “Everyone was so sympathetic to the cause that within three hours we had found 30 people who were eager to take part,” says Manuel. “The participants are from the working groups of Daumke, Heinemann, and Plested.”


PhD student Manuel Hessenberger. Photo: personal collection of M. Hessenberger

So what happens now? Manuel explains that after sending a request to the home, he received a package containing 30 little cards, each with one wish from one child written on it. The price range for a single present is between €15 and €20. Children who are not yet able to write or voice their wish – because they are too young or for another reason – receive toys specified by their care worker. “We decided to put all the cards into a hat,” says Manuel, “then everyone pulled out one card each. Written on the card is the name of the child, his or her age, and the gift wish.” He then collected all the individual presents together and will deliver them directly to the home together with a colleague. He explains that, because every child will celebrate Christmas differently (some can spend it with their parents while others stay in the home), it is left to the care workers to decide how best to organize distributing the gifts.

Manuel and his helpers want to repeat the activity next year, and have already set a concrete goal: they want to find enough willing participants within the MDC to meet an order of 100 cards.

Featured Image: Members of several MDC research groups with their gifts for the kids in the children's home in Pankow. Photo: M. Hessenberger, MDC