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'Jõulutunnel' charity Christmas drive raises over €300,000.

"Jõulutunnel" presenters Margus Saar and Margit Kilumets. Source: Kairit Leibold / ERR

Annual ETV charity Christmas drive "Jõulutunnel" had raised over €300,000 at the time lines closed Thursday evening.

Every year, "Jõulutunnel" picks a different beneficiary for donations, which members of the public make over the phone. This year's theme was neo-natal care, and the recipient, SA Sünnitusmajade Fond, is funneling the donations to that end, to purchase resuscitation tables, incubators and other essential equipment required for newborns.

Laine Randjärv, head of SA Sünnitusmajade Fond, said she had been touched by people's kindness.

Randjärv said: "On behalf of Sünnitusmajade Fond and all maternity wards across Estonia, I would like to express my deepest thanks all who donated, despite the rather difficult economic situation and all the uncertainty in the world, and found the opportunity to support us. A hundred percent of the donations received via 'Jõulutunnel' will go towards the purchase of medical equipment."

Co-presenter Margus Saar said the aim of "Jõulutunnel" had always been to encourage iewers to empathize with those facing the issues in question.

Saar said: "We are very grateful to all the families who shared their stories of their children's births, and made their hopes and fears comprehensible to others."

 "Many thanks to all the artists who performed and, of course, the young musicians from the VHK orchestra, who made a brilliant contribution, all while spending Christmas Day at the TV house. It is a great pleasure to be able to do things together, and thank you all for joining in."

As of the afternoon of Thursday, December 28, a total of €297, 235 had been raised via phone-in donation lines, while the €300,000-mark was exceeded thanks to nearly €14,000 being paid via bank transfer.

Over-the-phone donations go 100 percent to the beneficiary; phone operators do not charge for mediating the donations.

On average, 109,000 viewers watched the live broadcast on ETV on Chirstmas day, market research firm Kantar Emor says.

Margus Saar had noted ahead of the broadcast that donations could not be expected to match those of previous years, due to the tough economic situation, though this year's tally was practically the same as that for 2022. In 2021, the total exceeded half-a-million euros; for 2020, the figure was around €400,000.

"Jõulutunnel" 2023 was hosted by Margit Kilumets and Margus Saar, and on ETV+, ERR's Russian-language channel, by Margarita Tanajeva.

In addition to the Vanalinna Hariduskolleegium (VHK) alumni string orchestra, conducted by Rasmus Puuri, music acts Curly Strings, Stig Rästa and Maarja-Liis Ilus were among those performing.

The "Jõulutunnel" stories (in Estonian) are here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Rasmus Kuningas

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