A small gesture for us, a great joy for others

During three campaigns in December 2023, employees of the Max Delbrück Center took the opportunity to donate to good causes. This resulted in more than 300 gifts for children and more than 1,400 euros for the 'Kältebus' (cold bus) for homeless people in Berlin. We spoke with the organizers.

It is a tradition at the Max Delbrück Center for children to write their specific Christmas wishes on self-designed cards and for individual volunteers or labs/departments to fulfill them. There were 166 wish cards in 2023. “But we can do more,” says Victoria Malchin. She works as a property and building manager at the MDC-BIMSB and has been organizing the wish card campaign in Mitte for three years together with Feraye Kocaoglu, an administrative assistant to three research groups.

The wish card campaign has been running for eight years at the Buch campus, led by Dr. Inan Edes, a scientist in the 'Captain T Cell' project, and Ursula Düren, a doctoral candidate in the Sommer group. They pass on the wishes of the children being cared for at the Elisabethstift: for example, one group of children needed a mini-fridge, while another group was delighted to receive vouchers for a trip to an indoor trampoline park. In addition, 93 children wrote down their individual, heartfelt wishes. When these are fulfilled, the joy is immense. One seven-year-old child jumped all around the room.

Victoria Malchin and Feraye Kocaoglu brought this form of neighborhood assistance to Mitte three years ago. They wanted to help people who are not doing so well at this time of year: “We have a lot of privileges,” says Victoria Malchin. The two women also decided to support the Humanist Association, which helps children in different districts of Berlin. Fifty gifts were sent to the group — and were the highlight of their Christmas party. Days beforehand, the children asked if they would really be receiving their gift.

And they did. Lars Kaßler from logistics delivered the carefully wrapped gifts to the organization. If any wish cards are left over, the Elisabethstift steps in with its own funding. Unfortunately, the Humanist Association doesn’t have the capacity to do this. Victoria Malchin and Feraye Kocaoglu also get involved privately to ensure that no child goes away empty-handed.

Six boxes of toys

Beatrice Heuser was one of the organizers of the first-time donation campaign for the community shelter for refugees on Lindenberger Weg in Buch in 2023. She works as a technical assistant in the Izvák group. Together with Nadine Scharek and Anette Böddrich from the Wanker group, as well as Victoria Malchin in Mitte, they collected toys, balls, dolls, and much more. About 150 children from the refugee shelter, “who otherwise do not have as much as we do,” were thrilled to receive toys that would otherwise be lying around in others’ homes. To ensure there was something suitable for every child, they labeled the wrapped gifts with the contents and an age range. In total, employees of the Max Delbrück Center donated six boxes full of toys. Together with Lars Kaßler, Heuser took the gifts to the shelter. “A big thank you to everyone who donated,” she says.

The volunteer coordinator for the community shelter on Lindenberger Weg, who handed out the gifts to the children, got in touch later via email: She wanted to thank all the helpers at the Max Delbrück Center on behalf of the residents. “The little ones in particular were thrilled with the new toys,” she wrote. Such commitment helps to make families feel welcome.

1,426 euros for the 'Kältebus'

Catch the bus or have another punch or mulled wine with colleagues? In December, the mulled wine stand at the bus stop on the Buch campus opens in late afternoon, run by volunteers who donate the proceeds to a good cause.

A total of 1,426 euros went to the 'Kältebus' of the Berlin City Mission (Berliner Stadtmission). “It was important to us to support a local initiative. Due to the low temperatures at that time, we decided on the 'Kältebus,'” says Guido Krähenbühl, a doctoral candidate in the Gerhardt group. He organized the campaign this year together with doctoral students Munira Makhlouf from the Rehm group and José Nimo from the Coscia group. Ingo Kahl, head of the staff council, and Jeannine Engel, secretary to three working groups, supported them.

Despite the work, it was a lot of fun, says Krähenbühl. “It's also about team spirit. And it’s great to do something for a good cause at the same time.” What pleased him the most was that volunteers were found for every shift. “This brought more life to the campus.” All in all, the volunteers sold so much mulled wine that they even had to purchase more: a total of 689 cups of mulled wine and 135 cups of children's punch. Especially important to him is to say a “big thank you to Ingo and Jeannine!”

Text: Merit Seeliger


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