SMA Christmas Donation Drive for needy Children
Christmas donation drives have a long tradition at SMA. For many years, the company’s employees have collected money during the Christmas season and donated it to needy children. I had the opportunity to speak with Tahere Tabreezi about this program. Tahere serves on the works council and the charity-giving committee, as well as overseeing sports programs at SMA.
Tahere, how long has SMA been making its Christmas donations?
It seems like forever…but at least for the past 25 years. The works council used to encourage the entire SMA workforce to contribute to a regional project every year at Christmas. At some point, one of our employees suggested organizing a bake sale and donating the proceeds to a good cause. I was impressed, even then, by the commitment of our employees. Over the years, the idea became more firmly established and began to be implemented in a more professional way. As SMA grew larger, its workforce steadily increased as well. It eventually became necessary to create a charitable-giving committee to help the works council select deserving projects. Given the many wonderful suggestions we receive, you can imagine how difficult it is to narrow the list down to one. I wish we could support all of them… (laugh)
What sets SMA’s Christmas donation drive apart?
It is important to note that our employees do more than contribute financially; they are involved in every aspect of the program. For example, they are the ones who suggest projects for us to support. I never cease to be amazed by how many excellent suggestions the charitable-giving committee receives. But that’s not all. At our annual Christmas party, employees hold a bake sale with homemade baked goods, often made the night before. You can taste how fresh they are – surely an added incentive to contribute to our donation fund.
I should also mention the many donations collected by our employees throughout the year, such as event fees and proceeds from various activities. It’s wonderful that SMA has so many employees who are committed to helping others.
What kinds of projects does SMA support?
We focus on recognized non-profit projects in the social arena, particularly those that benefit disadvantaged children and young people and receive little funding from other sources. We select three projects every year. Usually two of them are local and one is in another country. Since our goal is to provide sustained, long-term assistance, we support these projects for three years on average before choosing another one. Every year there are changes in the group of projects we fund.
Which projects are we supporting this year?
In 2012, we are helping to fund the local project Phoenix – Kinder und Jugendberatung (Phoenix – Counseling for Children and Young People). It was established by the women’s crisis center Frauennotruf Göttingen to help children who have been victimized directly or indirectly by domestic violence. The main goal of the organization is to combat the social disadvantages suffered by these children and young people, to improve their educational opportunities, and above all to offer them a future that is free of violence. We are also supporting Mädchen Nothilfe e.V., a project that serves girls and young women in and around the city of Kassel. It provides immediate and unbureaucratic assistance for girls and young women faced with emergency situations.
Our foreign project is the El Pueblo Unido – Eine Schule für Straßenkinder school for street children, located in the Peruvian city of Cajamarca. The organization builds schools and promotes educational opportunities for children from the most poverty-stricken segments of society.
How are contributions made to the Christmas donation drive?
The total amount depends primarily on the commitment of our employees. First, SMA employees contribute to the fund. Second, SMA matches their donations. So every euro that is donated turns into two – that in itself is a huge motivating factor (laugh). In 2011, we were able to contribute roughly 40,000 euros to a good cause. In addition, contributions come from a variety of SMA initiatives during the course of the year, and there are also donations from suppliers, customers and visitors. Beginning in 2012, the “donate your cents” initiative will provide additional funding. Employees whose total pay is not a round figure can choose to have the remainder, ranging anywhere from 1 to 99 cents, automatically deducted and deposited in the donation account. We are pleased to see that many people are choosing to participate in this program.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about this initiative, Tahere?
Well, I would just like to say thank you to the entire SMA workforce, and of course to our managing board. Our Christmas donation drive benefits numerous organizations and initiatives, and puts a smile on the face of many children and young people.
Thank you very much for taking the time out for this interview.
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