Chocolate letters, LEGO, lots of shoe presents and of course ginger nuts. The Children’s Clothing Bank Hoorn has been turned into a warehouse, where about 4,000 gifts are stored. Intended for 520 children, so that this group can still celebrate a nice Sinterklaas party. “It’s 520 too many. But every child we can help is another one.”
Founder Bianca Hofmeijer has been the pivot behind the Children’s Clothing Bank for years. “With the foundation we have been organizing the Sinterklaas campaign for 15 years. For me this is the best party of the year and I think that all children should be able to celebrate this.” She saw a significant increase in registrations this year. “Last year we were at 340 children, now at 520.”
During the conversation with Children’s Clothing Bank volunteer Bianca Hofmeijer, a woman comes to hand over a bag. “There are 40 new cuddly toys in here. You can probably do something with it,” she says with a wink. Visit again shortly after. A man hands over a box of building blocks and a bag of cuddly toys. “It has been in our attic for years and that is how we make children happy with it.”
The clothing in the space at the Oude Veiling in Zwaag is snowing under these days. The 4,000 (!) Sinterklaas presents clearly predominate. Together with a group of loyal volunteers, Bianca is busy every day to give the children a nice family celebration.
Today a first group of about 350 parents, grandpas and grandmas will come by to choose presents for the (grand)children. “They prefer to go to the store themselves to buy presents for their children or grandchildren, but that is not financially feasible for many people.”
Six gifts can be selected from the enormous collection. “The parents do this because they know the children best. In this way, these children can also celebrate a nice party, with presents. And they can ‘just’ tell at school what they have received.”
The gifts come in from all sides. The Children’s Clothing Bank has been helped by Stichting Sinterklaasactie West-Friesland and companies and individuals are also selflessly involved. Bianca is standing at the corner where the LEGO is. “Most of them come from someone who went shopping with their own children and then brought them here,” says Bianca. “In other years we were happy with a small box, but now we have the very latest and also really large boxes. That makes it very special.”
The reactions are also often special. Although they vary considerably, she knows from experience. “We give the gifts and so we don’t know how the children react. There are parents who get emotional when choosing and there are grandparents who can still be grandparents for their grandchildren. That’s great for those people.”
No less than 520 children are registered this year. A bizarre number, Bianca agrees. “But we are happy that we can help them. Every child is one. A wish for next year? That there are 520 fewer.”
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