Eloïse Swets and Alexandra van Doorn are part of Erasmus University’s Team Christmas hampers. Every year, they make sure the boxes are put together and sent out. All employees are also given the option to donate their Christmas gifts to the food bank. This year, 192 boxes were donated. “This time we thought, maybe it would be nice if we also help unpack and sort the parcels,” says Eloïse.

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Nicole Groen at work in the distribution centre. Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

In the largest distribution centre of all food banks, five EUR employees from the Marketing and Communication department are standing with their sleeves rolled up, providing people living below the poverty line with food crates. It’s strategic advisor Nicole Groen’s first time at a food bank distribution centre. “I find it sad that the food bank is needed,” she says. “Especially in a rich country like the Netherlands. Still, it is nice to see that people donate and so many volunteers come here to help,” she says.

Heavy, but sociable

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Jorian Waleson and Floris Rietveld. Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

These are busy times at the distribution centre, so the work is structured carefully. Someone is placing the crates on the conveyor belt and others are standing behind the belt to fill the crates with food. Floris Rietveld is senior web editor and finds it interesting to see how the distribution centre works. He’s busy distributing the potatoes. “This is quite heavy work, some 1.400 crates pass by and it’s going very fast. I’m definitely not idling here.”

Fortunately, the EUR employees are supported by other volunteers. The holiday atmosphere is also helping, with Christmas songs playing continuously and the occasional person singing along very loudly. Jorian Waleson, campaign developer, thinks it’s all very cosy. He had taken this week off work, but decided to come and help as well. He’s not working together with his colleagues at the university, but helps sort donated orders by online supermarket Picnic. “I think it’s a super good initiative by the university, it is totally in the Christmas spirit,” he says. “Even without my colleagues it’s great fun, everyone here is very sociable.”

Helping is important

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Martha Bonefaas is one of the volunteers at the distribution centre. Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

One of those other enthusiastic volunteers is Martha Bonefaas. Martha is 61 and is always happy to help at the food bank, even when injuries make it difficult for her. “I have a prosthesis in my arm, which makes it hard for me to move my left arm. Still, I want to be here, because I find it so important and fun to help people and do my bit.”

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