Every year at NTT DATA Munich something rather special takes place. The opportunity for employees to make a children’s wish come true. Inga Simon pauses for a few moments to tell us about this inspiring initiative keeping her busy during December.
What is this project and how did it come about?
The Rain of Presents, as we call it, or Geschenke-Regen in German, first took place in Munich 15 years ago in 2008. The initiative was not started by me, but rather a colleague of mine, and I took over this role as part of my job in CSR more than 10 years ago and it is just as important now as it was then, maybe even more so.
How does it work?
The project invites our NTT DATA colleagues to support local children in need. The children write down a wish and that gets shared with our colleagues. It used to be displayed through notes on a board but with everyone now working remotely or in a hybrid format we compile an excel file and share that instead. Each colleague may choose a wish from a particular child and purchase a present for that child. They then wrap the gift up, send it to our office and we distribute the presents to the children. Before Covid we would have a Christmas party which the children would attend, together with our colleagues, and Santa would visit to give the children their gifts. We were not able to do this the last two years but hopefully next year we can hold the Christmas party again.
What types of gifts have been given?
It can be something very specific, for instance there was a skateboard once while another time there was a giant teddy or a guitar. We provide a similar program in other offices across Germany, such as Ettlingen, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Here it is a little different. For instance, in Frankfurt employees are asked to support, by donating to families in need of a break but who cannot afford it. In Ettlingen they give presents to children who are orphaned. In Cologne our colleagues provide money for a warm meal and help with the children’s homework. We always work with social institutions near our German offices to be sure we support the local communities.
Why does this initiative matter?
I think it is very important that companies get involved socially in their neighborhood. With “Rain of Presents”, our colleagues help in a very concrete way which benefits those local children in need directly. I think it's wonderful that our colleagues participate enthusiastically year after year in this initiative. I often get asked to make sure that each child gets exactly the right gift and everyone wraps the gifts so lovingly. Every year I am happy to be able to hand over these great presents. The children already recognize me and ask: Are you the Christmas-Lady? Even though Father Christmas then hands over the presents, of course.
What does sustainability mean to you / why does it matter?
For me, sustainability means taking responsibility – for other people, for all future generations, and for our environment, so that as many people as possible are well off on a planet that is as healthy as possible. The “Rain of Presents” brings people together. We all live in the same city, but our circumstances are often very different. It is good to be aware of this. The children who were the first ones to join the program are now grown up but many can still remember their first gift. That to me is really special and this activity is now very much part of my Christmas.
About Inga Simon
Inga has been working at NTT DATA for over 20 years and currently works in internal communications alongside her passion for all things CSR-related. Having started her professional career in the project side of the business, Inga made the move to marketing about 16 years ago drawing on skills learned during her Business Studies degree. A one-year sabbatical in 2003 provided Inga with a new perspective on life as she travelled around the world visiting: Tibet, Iran, India and Syria, South-East Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
Inga says, “I met so many great people all over the world and realized that how you grow up and under what conditions is always just a coincidence, but over time, nothing ever stays the same and you can change things together”.