Christmas is, for the huge majority of us, an exciting time of the year. We generally associate the festive season with family, good food, presents and a much-needed break, and usually start our preparations a long way in advance, allowing plenty of time for food and present shopping. Even those who don’t have very much money will normally go to any lengths to put on a Christmas to remember. But what about those who can’t afford it at all?
Project “Szlachetna Paczka” is one of the most recognised initiatives in Poland. It focuses on aiding people whose lives have just somehow not gone to plan and are in need of a little help at what should be a very special time of the year.
“Szlachetna Paczka” was created in 2000 by a group of students from Krakow under the leadership of priest Jacek Stryczek, and is one of the many “Wiosna” projects - a programme which focuses mainly on poverty and giving people a chance to make a positive change in their lives. When this initiative first started out they were able to reach 30 families, however in 2015 this number increased to a staggering 20 771!
So what is so special about this project? One of the first key aspects to note is that donors are able to choose who they would like to help. There are of course a huge number of incredibly important charitable organisations throughout the world however they don’t always offer this option. Another important feature is that the charity informs those wishing to contribute of exactly what is needed at that time, meaning that people are able to see a clear target and decide how much to donate in accordance with this, while also knowing exactly what their money is going towards. Equally, there is always the option of volunteering yourself and taking on the key role of delivering packets to families or coordinating events in your local neighbourhood.
It is in fact these volunteers that nominate those who they believe are most in need of assistance. These families are then interviewed, from May through to November of each year, to determine their needs, after which the process of preparing and delivering packages begins in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. In addition, it is also worth mentioning that many Polish celebrities have got involved in this project over the past few years, some of the most notable being Robert Lewandowski and his wife, the Polish President and First Lady, and even Pope Francis.
Finally, what is so inspiring about this project is how something that started off so small can grow to such a degree, even now beginning to go global, with many Poles abroad trying to make their own contributions and spread the word. Not only does “Szlachetna Paczka” provide this much-need aid for so many during the festive season, it also often results in long-term contacts between volunteers, donors and recipients; helping to create bonds within communities that last far longer than Christmas itself.
For more information, please visit the “Szlachetna Paczka” website or the Facebook page: