Thirteen years ago they started at the kitchen table and now Sintvoorieder1 has grown into a foundation with hundreds of volunteers who this year 40. children from Den Making Haag happy with gifts.

Stichting Sintvoorieder1 is committed to children growing up in poverty, so that they also receive a present and some sweets with Sinterklaas. We visit the warehouse in Leidschendam and speak with founder Esther Blom and regular volunteer Lieke de Reus.

Poverty is close

Esther from The Hague saw the enormous amount of gifts her children received only increasing. “I was embarrassed because I know that this is not obvious for all children. Then I thought: can’t I give some of these presents to others?”

Together with friends and family she started collecting toys and everything was packed at the kitchen table. “The first time, we donated 300 gifts to a Salvation Army home. Then the ball started rolling and we didn’t stop. After that we came to a shelter-from-my-body home and even people’s homes. Then you will be confronted with the facts. That so close to your home, where you have everything, there is so much poverty. I think a lot of people don’t realize that.”

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Volunteers at Sintvoorieder1 | Photo: Sintvoorieder1

Sinterklaas is there for everyone

As a child, you get a present twice a year. When it’s your birthday and with Sinterklaas. “If you happen to be born into a poor family and don’t get a present because of that, does that mean you haven’t been nice? Of course not, but that cannot be explained to a child”, says volunteer Lieke.

“Sinterklaas is a beautiful Dutch tradition that everyone should be able to participate in”, Esther begins. “We also donate to Ukrainian children, for example, so that they can get to know the tradition. The bottom line is that Sinterklaas is there for everyone, whoever you are and wherever you come from. Every child deserves a present.”

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Warehouse

The warehouse is filled with toys every day through donations from companies and things that people bring. A team of 25 regular volunteers, as well as hundreds of people who occasionally come to help, the toys are sorted and packed. “The peak is after the summer holidays, but we make so many packages that we are busy all year round. Unfortunately we have to move out of this building soon, so we are now looking very hard for a new warehouse so we can move on.”

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Sintvoorieder1 runs entirely on the help of volunteers. “We are pretty much the only foundation that has a waiting list for volunteers, which is really unique. You can come to work every week or just once and people like that. In addition, you know exactly what you are doing it for. The package you pack actually ends up with a child. And the atmosphere in the warehouse is so nice that you want to come back.”

Lieke would initially only come to work a few hours a week, but now walks around the warehouse seven days a week. “Well, I immediately felt such positive energy that I decided to take the rest of the year off from work and go completely for the foundation.”

Mediaweek

Omroep West, The Hague FM and Sintvoorieder1 are joining forces and call for in the week of 11 November to bring gifts to the central library in Den Hedge. You can also donate money, toys and sweets via

the website of Sintvoorieder1.

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