Friday, 8 December 2023, 16:58
For the third year running, a caring British expat has organised a fundraising initiative to ensure that all the children at the Ciudad de los Niños home in Malaga receive a Christmas gift. Mijas resident Johanna Grey began supporting the home after visiting in 2021 to deliver advent calendars to 50 children. She said that the experience was "so upsetting", she set up, along with the help of her friend, Eva Brown Tislova, a fundraising campaign, which raised more than 6,500 euros for the children.
She repeated the initiative last year, and again raised money to buy the children a Christmas box consisting of a 40-euro gift voucher, toiletries, clothes and chocolate. The remainder of the money from both campaigns was used to take the children on excursions and trips. These have included excursions to Granada's Sierra Nevada, Bioparc Fuengirola, Mijas water park and a trip to the Mayan Monkey chocolate factory in Mijas.
"We have enjoyed some lovely trips this year, financed by the money we had over. These have included kayaking and sledging, as well as a trip to the Museo de la Imaginación (Imagination Museum) in Malaga. The children really love these outings; it gives them something to look forward to and it gets them out into the outside world," Johanna explained to SUR in English.
Last year's campaign also financed the purchase of equipment for six boys from a local basketball team who were unable to play because they did not have the funds to buy the equipment they needed.
"We have 46 children to buy for this year, and we need at least 50 euros per child. We need to raise around 2,300 euros just for the presents. We also wrap everything and put it in a lovely Christmas bag with a name tag on, and then we deliver everything on 23 December," Johanna said.
This year's campaign has already got off to a good start, because the Fuengirola branches of Tesco and Iceland have again got behind the initiative. Last year both supermarkets donated more than 200 boxes of Cadbury's chocolate to the cause, and this year, they have supplied advent calendars, selection boxes and more chocolates, sweets and soft drinks.
Mayan Monkey, the artisan chocolate factory, has also stepped up again this year. Last year, 40 children were invited to visit the factory and museum, where they were given the chance to make their own chocolate, while also learning about the history of chocolate during a tour of the museum. This year, along with another trip, the owners have produced a surprise personalised story book for each of the younger children.
"Tesco and Iceland have been absolutely wonderful again. They have already supplied us with chocolates and sweets, and they have told us that they have a lot more for us. Also, the chocolate factory has very kindly offered to make the books free of charge. They will have a photograph of the child and their name, so it will be a really lovely treat for the children. I think it is a really caring and wonderful thing for them to do," Johanna said.
People also began contacting Johanna last month to offer cash donations, which she said was "incredible". She had more than 1,800 euros left over from last year's appeal, so she is already on her way to achieve her goal this year, although she is appealing for donations to be made on the Ciudad de los Niños Malaga GoFundMe page.
"Our goal is to raise at least 4,000 euros, so we are almost halfway there already. It is because of you wonderful people that we are able to make this possible; without your support, none of this would happen. I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver," Johanna concluded.
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