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As November and December come to an end, we reflect on our activities from the past two months.

Here’s a summary of our initiatives:

  • A Rolling Aid event for unaccompanied minors in Ter Apel
  • Sintvoorieder1 donates 1000 presents
  • Pietjes and presents for children at AZC Luttelgeest
  • Sinterklaas pays a surprise visit to children at AZC Dronten
  • Bringing Sint Spirit to Galaxy Amsterdam and Zeewolde
  • Holiday Rolling Aid events in Krimpen aan den IJssel and Almere
  • Looking forward

A Rolling Aid event for unaccompanied minors in Ter Apel

With a team effort, we achieved a big impact at our Rolling Aid event in Ter Apel 🙌

For the over 250 unaccompanied minors (children between the ages of 11-17 who came without their parents), uncertainty about the future, memories of the past, and loneliness are just a few of the emotions these children go through as they start the long process to be granted asylum in the Netherlands.

Many of them have arrived with only the clothes on their backs, unprepared for the cold winter months. Most haven’t had a warm, home-cooked meal in a long time. But most of all, many haven’t had a reason to smile since they started on their long journey to safety.

It’s with these thoughts in mind that we quickly took action. Within two weeks, we organized the biggest Rolling Aid event to date. On Saturday, Nov. 4th we arrived in Ter Apel with:

✌️40 volunteers 

🏃‍♂️6 activities

🧥300 Sheltersuit jackets

🍴600 snacks

❤️7 partners involved

We spent the day playing games of soccer, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, drawing and painting activities. ⚽🏐🏀🏸

“It was truly inspiring to witness everyone coming together on this day, united by a shared purpose: to bring joy and laughter to the children who need it most. This is the very essence of what People for People stands for,” Marcella Simons, Director of People for People.

We also donated laptops to empower children in the classroom to learn Dutch and sports equipment, like yoga mats and footballs, so that the power of play can continue to bring unaccompanied minors at Ter Apel together as they start to build a new life in the Netherlands.

A special thanks to our partners Sheltersuit Foundation, Stichting Life Goals Nederland, Aram Bakr, KLABU, Yamen cuisine, and Tony’s Chocolonely for helping make this happen! 🙏

Sintvoorieder1 donated 1000 presents 🎁

Thanks to Sintvoorieder1’s amazing donation, we were able to bring a special delivery of gifts and joy to children at 8 different COA locations this year.

Each gift is a package of several age-appropriate presents, a poem, and candy. Last year, they gave gifts to over 475 organizations.

While we may be focused on tackling different problems, it was great to see how our missions came together beautifully. With the power of people for people, we can achieve anything. Sintvooriederon’s founder Esther Blom said:

“It’s so amazing when it all comes together. I see our organization as a movement of people who want to make a change and bring people together. We don’t want a polarised society. We want a society that comes together to do something for others and for change. I’m so proud of the organization now. In the end, this year we will help put a smile on the faces of 30,000 children.”

Pietjes and presents for children at AZC Luttelgeest

On Nov. 28th, we kicked off our Sinterklaas events with a visit to Luttelgeest. Along with the presents, music, and games we had four pietjes entertaining the kids with dancing and mischievous antics.

Thanks to Sintvoorieder1 we had gift packs to give to all 170 children. And what they found inside was amazing! Each pack was filled with not one but several presents perfect for each age group and also candy and a poem. 🎁

One little girl was so happy to receive the presents that she put them all in her bag and then went up to each and every volunteer to show them her new collection of treasures. ❤️

We received word that some of the residents didn’t have a proper pair of shoes, warm jackets, winter clothing, or hygiene products. So we sprung into action to ensure everyone received the items they need to stay warm this winter. We also donated laptops so the older children can do their homework after class and yoga mats to be used for resilience training.

At the end of the day, one of the employees working with unaccompanied boys said, “I’ve never seen the boys so happy, there are some I’ve never seen smile until today. Are you coming again next year?”

We believe that every child deserves a visit from Sinterklaas and, it’s thanks to Sintvoorieder1’s generous donation, that we could make this mission possible. See this interview our Director did with Omroep Flevoland about the motivation behind this project.

Sinterklaas pays a surprise visit to children at AZC Dronten 🎅

There’s nothing better than seeing the awe spread across little kids’ faces the first time they see Sinterklaas in person. People for People and a team of 20 volunteers from Picnic had the privilege of being able to share this moment with the 255 kids currently living at AZC Dronten and their families. 🌟

Victor Coffa, who works as a visual designer at Picnic four days a week and a professional actor at Toverland Amusement Park one day a week, was our Sinterklaas for the day and he pulled out all the stops including layers of make-up and a professional costume. 

Along with the fun and games, we also gave out packages of presents to each of the children from 0-18. 

For Victor, the experience was completely different from his usual role as the man in red. While most kids ask him for games, gadgets, and toys, these children were wishing for something different. “Some kids asked me for a house where they could live with their family, another asked to see her father again who had to stay behind in her home country.” 

As Victor says, “Dreams and wishes are the most beautiful things you can get strength from. Never losing hope and continuing to believe brings them every day closer to the day their wishes will be fulfilled.”

Check out this video of our experience made by De Stentor

Bringing Sint Spirit to Galaxy Amsterdam and Zeewolde 🎅

The week of Sinterklaas, we organized two more events. 

For the first one on Dec. 3rd, we went back to Galaxy Amsterdam, the same location where we held our first-ever Sinterklaas event in December 2022. 

The 65 children and their families again gave us a warm reception as we organized games, an art station and shared plenty of pepernoten and chocolate milk. The cardboard playhouses donated by KarTent were a hit with the children. 

On December 5th, we spent Sinterklaas Day at Zeewolde. Victor Coffa came back again to play our Sinterklaas with many of the 278 children in awe being able to meet this magical character in person. 

One volunteer shared, “It was an amazing day with a lot of really sweet children and very enthusiastic parents!”

Thanks to Sintvoorieder1 we had presents to give to each one of the 343 children we met that week. 🎁

Holiday Rolling Aid events in Krimpen aan den IJssel and Almere 🌟

Our holiday spirit didn’t stop after December 5th! We held two Rolling Aid events at Krimpen aan den IJssel and Almere where we also brought some special surprises for the 54 children living at both locations. 🎁

At Krimpen aan den IJssel, we spent the day with the children and their families blowing bubbles, playing games and sparking some creative energy. By far the most popular activity was the arts table where kids and parents alike unleashed their artistic talents. 

The energy in the room was amazing with so many families filled with hope for their new life in the Netherlands. One mother we spoke with told us she was so excited her son would get to go back to school the next day that she didn’t sleep all night. 

One member of the COA shared a beautiful message on Linkedin thanking the team, 

“It is with immense joy that I would like to thank People for People Foundation for visiting our emergency shelter in Krimpen aan den Ijssel! The activities they have undertaken with the children have not only put unforgettable smiles on their faces but have also created a deep connection that warms our hearts. 🌟

Our collaboration with People for People was not only fun but also extremely valuable! Together, we have strived to bring joy and positivity, and you can feel it in every smile of the children.

The children’s smiles during the activities with People for People reflect not only joy but also the power of collaboration and compassion. A huge thank you to People for People for their inspiring contribution to our pursuit of a more inclusive and supportive society. 🙏✨”

In Almere, we had some very special hosts helping us out. Three of our translator/volunteers, who have been key to helping us connect with unaccompanied minors in an array of languages, are also residents of COA Almere. They welcomed us and brought an extra community spirit to the event. 

In addition to the gifts, games, arts and crafts, food, and dancing we normally have at our events, the residents also requested a face-painting table! So we arranged two amazing volunteers to share their artistic talents!

As we wrap up a whirlwind tour of Sint events across the Netherlands, we want to thank our partners, the COA locations, and especially our volunteers for putting their time and dedication towards creating beautiful memories these children and their families will never forget.

🎁 We handed out over 900 presents thanks to Stichting Sintvoorieder1

🍪 We shared plenty of holiday treats thanks to Picnic Technologies and Tony’s Chocolonely

🙌 We had over 70 volunteers from Picnic Technologies, Usespace, Randstad Groep Nederland, Momkai, bunq, U adviseurs and MessageBird join us

🌍 And translators from 6 different countries at each event

🎨 We organized over 20 activities including creative workshops, coloring cardboard playhouses, indoor games like table tennis, baking pepernoten, outdoor games like football and badminton and taking pictures with Sinterklaas and the Pieten

🧥 We donated winter clothing, shoes and jackets, laptops, yoga mats, indoor games, blowing bubbles and many more items at every location thanks to MessageBird, Picnic Technologies, KarTent and Otrium

Thank you for making these children’s first memories in the Netherlands ones of laughter, warmth, kindness and hope for a better future. ❤️

Looking forward

With the International Day of Education coming up on the 24th, we are rolling into January with a whole month dedicated to empowerment through education 📚💪🧠

During this month, we look forward to:

  • Providing school bags and supplies to unaccompanied minors who will be going back to school for the first time
  • Organizing two special Rolling Aid events at Biddinghuizen and Kampen where we will also donate school supplies
  • A day with talented IT trainees from Young Colfield who will help us prepare laptops so we can donate them to asylum shelters so they can be used for studying and homework 
  • Sharing educational programs, scholarships and resources for asylum seekers in the Netherlands
  • Packing and sorting new incoming donations of warm, surplus clothing and other needed essentials from FOX, Nomad, and Triple A – Risk Finance, who donated their Kerstpakketten budget to our cause ❤️

We wish everyone a happy holiday with their loved ones, no matter their faith.

Let’s unite in the New Year to provide support, empowerment, and connection for people forced to flee their homes. Together we stand as People for People.