Christmas baking with the Kinderjahre foundation
“What shall I do now?” asks a little boy with a mop of curly black hair, pointing with his little finger at the objects on the table, which seem so strange to him.
“Paint a pretty picture, of course,” whispers the blonde girl sitting beside him at the table, who has already begun to stir a bowl frosting with a spoon.
The boy looks at the little gingerbread house, confused, and then looks at me: “Can you help me?”
“Of course! Come on, let’s do it together,” I say, and sit down with him and about twenty other children at the table.
“What’s your name?” I ask, while I start brushing the first half of the roof with white icing. “Sami,” he says, looking at me out of the corner of his eye.
“That’s a nice name! And are you looking forward to Christmas, Sami?” There is a moment of silence… “We don’t celebrate Christmas! I am a Muslim!” “He’s a real maths genius!” says the teacher, winking at me. I relax and encourage Sami to brush icing on the other half of the gingerbread roof.
Sami is one of many children in Hamburg whose parents have come to Germany from abroad. “It is not easy for them to integrate into our society and culture. It is difficult for them because they don’t speak German well and the financial resources are tight. This also means that the children’s development suffers,” a teacher tells us.
“We are very grateful to Mrs Lay for her support. It is indescribable how committed she is to the personal and professional development of the children and the things she sets in motion for them.” This is our impression as well.
Today is a very special day for 60 children from three schools in Hamburg. They were invited to a Christmas baking session by Mrs Lay at the kitchen of the Radisson Hotel at Hamburger Dammtor. Mrs Lay is the founder and CEO of the Kinderjahre Foundation. She and the foundation members are committed to helping children growing up in difficult social conditions. Among the many members is Mrs Gerda Bleckwedel, who is decorating gingerbread houses with the children today. “Our goal is to help children at a very young age, to find their way in life and find themselves, to experience joy, to share community experiences and to gain confidence and courage for the future.”
Just like the students of the 4d class from Mümmelmannsberg primary school, the 3rd grade class from Kerschensteinstrasse elementary school and the preschool children from Schule an der Seebek, we at Garbe Industrial Real Estate GmbH also get to share in the community experience with the children at the Christmas baking session today. And we are delighted from the very first minute.
While Sami and I are still decorating his gingerbread house, Mrs Galle and her helpers from the Radisson are hard at work in the next room, busy trying to push the multitude of cut-out cookies into the preheated oven. Mrs Galle is the HR & Training Coordinator of the Radisson Hotel and made the premises available for the event. Of course, she also can’t resist the joy of decorating the cookies together with the children.
We find ourselves surrounded by the cheerful hustle and bustle of children of various nationalities. Laughter accompanies the eager rolling out of the dough, and the kids “talk shop” about the cookie cutters. Some girls are so ecstatic about their little aprons that they prance about with them through the kitchen. They laugh and frolic through the hotel kitchen with flour-covered faces and shining eyes. Every now and then you spy a little boy who delightfully licks at his fingers, sticky with powdered sugar, or who indulges himself with a gummy bear.
After about three hours of cutting, painting and decorating, we are amazed at the children’s many colourful works of art. Each cookie is more beautifully and creatively decorated than the last, and it is practically a miracle that the gingerbread houses have not yet collapsed under their sugary loads.
And the best part: The children have been baking so diligently and creating and decorating new gingerbread houses again and again, that they get to take all of their work home with them – and there are also a lot of fully packed bags left. These being sold at the Harburg Christmas Market in the department store channel on demand. “And with the proceeds, we can go on to create something nice for other children,” says Mrs Lay, a radiantly contented grin on her face.
We are still trying to help close the last bags for the houses with ribbons while Mrs Bleckwedel has already liberated the tables of sprinkles and frosting. Mrs Lay still has a moment for us to sit and reminisce about the morning.
“That was great! And we would like to thank you and the Garbe Industrial Real Estate GmbH Management Board for your truly generous donation! And what we find especially nice is that you were able to get to know our children personally. We would be very pleased if you could take part in the event again next time.”
We take a farewell photo with the foundation members and we cannot believe our luck when we find ourselves in front of the doors of the Radisson again, fully loaded with cookies and gingerbread houses.
It was a great pleasure to be able to witness the commitment of the Kinderjahre Foundation live and in person. The warmth and the beaming faces of the children will remain in our memories and delight us over and over again in the coming days.
From left to right: Mrs Janina Lange (Garbe Industrial Real Estate GmbH), Mrs Lay and Mrs Bleckwedel from the Kinderjahre Foundation
Would you also like to donate or get involved in the future of our youth? The Kinderjahre Foundation website can be found at http://stiftung-kinderjahre.de/