This year, the donations collected in the Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare campaign helped a total of 28,000 low-income families with children. Food vouchers give many families a chance to have Christmas, but their situation must not be forgotten in everyday life.
Thousands of companies and tens of thousands of private benefactors participated in the Good Holiday Spirit collection this year.
“Companies, in particular, have taken the Good Holiday Spirit collection to heart, and many of them wanted to use the company Christmas gift money to help low-income families with children. This year, companies also went ahead and organised different campaigns in favour of the collection,” says Anna Laurinsilta, head of fundraising operations at the Finnish Red Cross.
“We are grateful for all donations, large and small. Donations make it possible for us to help families in need. We will know the final proceeds from this year’s collection in early 2019, after all the payments have been received.”
Recipients are grateful and surprised
Together with child welfare clinics, social services and church diaconal work, the Good Holiday Spirit vouchers were delivered to a total of 28,000 families with children all over Finland.
According to Ms Laurinsilta, the recipients are often amazed at the willingness of strangers to offer them help. Many mothers and fathers have been worrying about the holidays, because of the money they require.
“I am sure you cannot understand the feeling I had when I opened the letter and found a 70-euro food voucher,” says a student mother of three.
“The letter brought tears to my eyes. And the relief, when I realised I can buy food for my children.”
Poverty can be erased with political decisions
In many families, Christmas is saved with a Good Holiday Spirit voucher. However, political decisions are needed in order to end poverty among families with children. In Finland, approximately 110,000 children are continuously touched by poverty.
“Many families live on basic benefits, the levels of which are not sufficient in Finland today,” says Maaret Alaranta, the social well-being coordinator for the Red Cross.
“Raising basic benefits would secure better income for families and equal opportunities for children to grow and develop.”
The Good Holiday Spirit collection was launched on 22 November. It was organised in cooperation with YLE Aamu-tv, YLE Radio Suomi and YLE Radio Vega. Families have been able to use the vouchers to buy food from the shops of the campaign partners, i.e. K-food stores, Lidl and S Group grocery stores.
Photo: Finnish Red Cross / Katja Lösönen