The Joulupuu charity campaign held at Forum on 13–16 December collected presents for children from low-income families. Schoolmates Nuppu, Leona Lano and Salma were among the first people to bring presents.
When Nuppu (10), Lano (10), Salma (10) and Leona (7), all students at the same school in East Helsinki, heard about the Joulupuu charity campaign, they created a WhatsApp group and started making plans to buy presents.
“It was really hard to choose the right present, even though we got to choose the age of the child who will receive it. In the end, I decided to buy a present for someone my age,” says Salma, explaining that the present she chose was a paint-it-yourself mug and a bag of sweets.
Nuppu wanted to buy something for a young girl and chose two Littlest Pet Shop toys as her present. Lano decided to play it safe by wrapping up sweets and chewing gum. Leona bought a small sparkly wallet and some chocolate.
Dropping off the presents was the most exciting part
Dropping off the presents at the Forum shopping centre, fully adorned in Christmas lights, was an exciting moment for the girls.
Joulupuu charity campaign workers helped them write small small cards for their presents to indicate the age and gender of the intended recipient and the contents of the present. This allows the social workers who distribute the presents to give the right presents to the right children.
The four girls wondered how the children would feel when they received their presents. They all agreed on what was the best part about buying the presents.
"It would be so nice to know who the gift gets and what she thinks."
“Being able to help and putting a smile on someone’s face,” Nuppu says.
“Making the child who receives the present happy and giving them good Christmas memories,” Lano adds.
The girls said the Joulupuu charity campaign also made them think about their own Christmas and wish lists in a new way.
“I thought maybe I don’t actually want that many presents, because there are children out there who don’t get many at all. Maybe I could save some more money to give presents to others,” Salma says.
Forum was an official collection point for presents for the 16th time
Junior Chamber Finland’s Joulupuu charity campaign was organised at Forum, Finland’s best-known shopping centre, for the 16h time this year. The campaign started in Helsinki in 2002.
“Responsibility is at the heart of everything we do at Forum."
“Responsibility is at the heart of everything we do at Forum, and we are very pleased to have been part of this valuable campaign, which creates genuine Christmas cheer, since its early days,” says Katja Hatakka, Shopping Centre Manager at Forum.
Laura Kätkänaho is in charge of corporate partnerships for the Joulupuu charity campaign in Helsinki, and she is also satisfied with the campaign’s cooperation with the shopping centre.
“We have worked with Forum on this campaign for a long time and our cooperation has always been very smooth. The Forum shopping centre also provides the campaign with the best possible location in the heart of Helsinki.”
HopLop gift voucher, headphones or wool socks
The aim of the campaign organised in Helsinki is to collect Christmas presents for children and young people in Helsinki who are customers of child protection services.
“They are children who have been taken into care or placed in foster families. Due to their family circumstances, they might not get any Christmas presents at all. There are more than 10,000 children and young people as customers of child protection services in the Helsinki metropolitan area,” Kätkänaho explains.
Donors can give presents that they have made themselves or bought, as long as the item is unused. The biggest demand is for presents that are suitable for children between the ages of 11 and 17.
"Many people have realised that helping others is the most rewarding feeling there is.”
“Many donors give games, toys or clothing as presents. Gift vouchers to the cinema, the HopLop adventure park or Helsinki Zoo have also been popular. In recent years, there’s also been a growing trend of giving power banks for mobile devices and headphones as presents,” Kätkänaho says.
Good deeds are paid forward
Each year, the campaign organisers receive feedback on the presents from social workers. Many children and young people feel a strong sense of gratitude for a stranger thinking about them and wanting to buy them a present.
According to Kätkänaho, the good deeds have also been paid forward. Many of the young people who have received presents in the past have requested to work as campaign volunteers the following year. Being the beneficiary of a good deed has given them the desire to help others.
Responsibility is an increasingly hot topic in society, and this trend is also reflected in the growing popularity of the Joulupuu charity campaign. The number of presents has increased each year.
“It is nice to see that people are prepared to share what they have. Many people have realised that helping others is the most rewarding feeling there is.”
Joulupuu charity campaign
- The idea for the campaign started in London and it was first organised in Helsinki in 2002.
- The national campaign is primarily coordinated by the Junior Chambers in various cities.
- Presents are collected for children who have been taken into care or placed in foster families.
- The fourday campaign is organised each year in mid-December.
- The Forum shopping centre is the official collection point for presents in the Helsinki region. A collection point for corporate donors operates on the premises of social services in Oulunkylä.
- The campaign has grown each year, with more than 20,000 presents collected in Helsinki in 2017.