Food parcel donations can help homeless people at Christmas
During the festive period, Estonia's homeless shelters fill up quickly. Social support centers and churches alike are doing what they can to provide help homeless people with food parcels thanks to donations from the public,
Residents of the Tallinn Social Work Center (Tallinna Sotsiaaltöö Keskus) on Kauge tänav are gathered around the Christmas tree waiting for Estonian Santa Claus "jõuluvana" to arrive.
This year, several separate Christmas parties will be held as it's hard to find a room big enough to fit all the shelter's residents in at once.
"We have more than 600 people, so some would miss out. That's why the (accommodation) units do their own Christmas dinners and entertain people or hand out parcels, as much as possible. It should also feel like a home from home," said Kersti Põldemaa, director of Tallinn Social Work Centre.
The people staying in the center's accommodation units do not have their own homes to go. In such challenging times, it has become noticeable that places in shelters are filling up fast.
According to the results of the recent census, the number of homeless people in Estonia has risen slightly, says Põldemaa. Currently, there are estimated to be around 60 such people in Tallinn alone.
Homeless and disadvantaged people are invited to St. Olaf's Church in Tallinn for a special Christmas service, which takes place each year before New Year's Eve. This year, donations of sweets and other foods are already piling up at the church.
While in recent years due to the coronavirus, there have been no other events to accompany the handing out of Christmas gifts, this year there will also be a concert around the Christmas tree on December 30.
Liis Borissenko, who is a member of the church's welfare board, said that people have always been generous in helping and that food donations are extremely welcome.
"This year we plan to have a minimum of 1,000 parcels. We are guessing that maybe there will be a need for 1,500," said Borissenko,
People can bring food parcels to St. Olaf's Church from 5 p.m. on December 29. Tinned foods and packets of sweets can be brought already, Borissenko said.
The gift parcels that "jõuluvana" distributed to the people staying at the Kauge tänav shelter included oranges, a jar of honey, biscuits and other goodies.
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Editor: Michael Cole