Lenka wants a lava lamp, Monika a stuffed animal in a mug, and Franta is longing for chocolates—these aren’t just any ordinary holiday wishes but those of Czech senior citizens who are participating in Jesus’s Grandchildren (Ježíškova vnoučata) this year.
The project was launched in 2016 by a Czech Radio journalist Olga Štrejbarová who got the idea while working on a segment about seniors abandoned in homes over the holidays.
“I asked one director of the home if it happens that people brought Christmas gifts to seniors, such as children in orphanages. He smiled and said that nothing like this had ever happened,” says Štrejbarová.
That discussion led to Jesus’s Grandchildren writes Ms. Štrejbarová, and thanks to great public enthusiasm the initiative has seen an avalanche of participants—both donors and recipients—that is only growing.
The program connects lonely people in nursing homes and other state and non-state facilities for the elderly with donors who choose to fulfill a wish or give a material gift at their own expense.
The project is determined to give elderly participants gifts and experiences that they want, not only what they need.
From books and magazine subscriptions, sausage and shoes, to experiences like a visit to the zoo after forty years, a theater outing or even a ride on a Harley, some 88 percent of wishes have been fulfilled by now but over 200 wishes remain.
According to the Jesus’s Grandchildren site, gifts can be delivered personally should you wish to develop a friendship with your senior.
Another interesting initiative is the Sock’s for Grandma project which we covered last year; proceeds from the hand-knitted socks support the Elpida organization which helps seniors integrate into modern society.