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December 2004

Festive Favors

Give a little Love this Christmas

There’s nothing like a friendly gesture to brighten your day. In a city where the local mentality is often compared to its unpredictable weather, a smile, a compliment, even holding a door for someone can inspire real warmth. And, particularly at this time of year, the importance of making others feel good should not be underestimated. So take advantage of International Volunteer Day on December 5 to give a little back to the community—be it a smile, your time, tangible goods or a monetary donation. ’Tis the season of goodwill, after all…

How to help:
Pass on your culinary talent with the English-speaking Missionaries of Charity, who run a soup kitchen for those in need. Extra volunteers are always welcome, particularly over the holiday period, as are donations of clothes. Or get involved with the English Speaking Prisoners’ Support Group (ESPSG), which aims to build bridges between prisoners and the outside world. In addition to writing letters, donating English-language literature and occasionally carrying out visits, ESPSG plans quarterly worship services at several prisons. Because many inmates are simply victims of immigration problems rather than dangerous criminals, it can be particularly depressing for them being held during the holidays and any show of kindness can be extremely uplifting. Another option for non-German speakers is the Munich English-speaking Group of Amnesty International, which always welcomes volunteers to help with their latest projects.

Travel is synonymous with holidays and the Bahnhofsmission München at the Central Train Station not only provides essential assistance to disabled, elderly and other passengers in need at the station, but also helps those who have nowhere to go. An annual holiday meal is sponsored by the city’s gastronomic scene. Assistance is always appreciated, as are donations of clothes, textiles, food and other items. The charity Wings of Hope helps child victims in war-torn areas. Through therapy, counseling and creative peaceful activities Peter Klentzan, a deacon of the Protestant Church in Bavaria, and his group have helped more than 10,000 children since 1994. Because these children are treated in their home countries, sponsoring a child is an easy way to offer support. If you want to do something for youngsters closer to home, BIB e.V. is always looking for volunteers to assist disabled children and their families.

If time is tight, small acts can also provide help on a global scale. Even by purchasing UNICEF’s Christmas cards, which are sold by some 100 volunteers from the UNICEF-Arbeitsgruppe München, you can help support humanitarian causes across the world. Otherwise, while you’re out Christmas shopping, simply drop leftover foreign currency or pocket change into the collection box at the city Information Center in the Rathaus at Marienplatz, which also goes directly to UNICEF. A cute gift option is the red ribbon wearing AIDS-Teddy 2004 sold for € 6 at the Gasteig and several other locations throughout Munich. The earnings go to the Münchner AIDS-Hilfe e.V., where several more opportunities exist for people—from caregivers to attorneys—who are willing to help AIDS sufferers. At Tatendrang München, which has links to more than 200 organizations, volunteers complete a questionnaire about interests, skills, availability, etc., enabling the most appropriate placement to be found. This is a great starting point for anyone with no particular loyalties, who would prefer to go where they are needed most.

As representatives for more than 300 social institutions over the past 82 years, Caritas also conducts a thorough interview to match helpers to where they can aid best. Caritas has five volunteer centers throughout the city and the Website has direct links to organizations.

One way to give that is often forgotten is by donating blood, with some 20,000 blood donations required daily in Germany alone. Give to the Klinikum Grosshadern Blutbank in Grosshadern or the Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz (BRK) (Red Cross). As there are different regulations for foreigners wanting to give blood in Germany, non-Germans should call the freephone hotline (see number below) to check whether they are eligible to donate. The Red Cross also welcomes volunteers for everything from first aid, social and humanitarian work to mountain and water rescue. Clothing donations are also taken at their center in Lehel.

Volunteering, whether by offering your spare coat, time or services, is a great way to make a difference to someone’s life—even your own.

• Missionaries of Charity

Kidlerstr. 34, Tel. 77 62 81
Frauenlobstr. 5, Tel. 26 02 36 77
• Amnesty International
Munich English-speaking Group html/Home.htm
• Bahnhofsmission München
Hauptbahnhof, Track 11
Tel. 59 45 76 / 77 / 78
• Stiftung Wings of Hope Deutschland
Bergmannstr. 46, Tel. 50 80 88 51
• BIB e.V.,
Baaderstr. 72, Tel. 316 50 08
• UNICEF-Arbeitsgruppe München
Neumarkter Str. 21, Tel. 950 53 77
• Münchner AIDS-Hilfe e.V.
Lindwurmstr. 71, Tel. 54 46 470
• Tatendrang München
Maximilianstr. 6, Tel. 29 04 465
• Caritasverband der Erdiözese München und Freising e.V.
Hirtenstr. 2–4, Tel. 55 16 90
• Klinikum Grosshadern Blutbank
Marchioninistr. 15, Tel. 70 95 37 09
• Blutspendedienst des Bayerischen Roten Kreuzes GmbH (München)
Free hotline 0800 11 949 11
Herzog-Heinrich-Str. 2, Tel. 539 90
• BRK Kreisverband München
Seitzstr. 8, Tel. 237 32 80
Tel. 23 73 257

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