Clear Signal of Solidarity

It began as a small project of a regional association in Bavaria: the Christmas Truck. That was 30 years ago. There is also a miniature truck for the 30th anniversary.

Over the last three decades, it has evolved into what is now the nationwide aid campaign of the Federal Association of Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe (St. John’s Accident Assistance). Throughout Germany, thousands of individuals and numerous companies again and again get working, making it possible to help people in need. At the same time, it means promotong peace in a practical way, as the current crises show up, not least in the ongoing war in Ukraine. For recipients, every Christmas trucker parcel is proof that other people are thinking of them. "It is very painful to observe that the need for aid is actually increasing in many places today," says Andreas Hautmann, member of the regional board of Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. Bayern. Indeed, this is the third year that the Johanniter Christmas Trucker has been active in Germany as well.

Photo: Saskia Rosebrock, Johanniter

Tried-and-true, hand-in-hand

Three decades of Johanniter Christmas Truckers has meant constant changes and some surprising developments. The goal of this campaign has not changed since the beginning: Helping people in need in south-eastern Europe, just around the corner of Germany. The parcels are distributed to economically disadvantaged families, soup kitchens, old people's and children's homes in Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Moldova, for example.

Photo: Marion Martin, Johanniter

Even giving aid is dangerous

Deliveries near the front line around Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odessa are particularly dangerous in view of the daily attacks. The extensive destruction of infrastructure and the winter made providing aid even more difficult. Journeys that would normally take teams an hour and a half now take more than six hours, as huge detours sometimes have to be made. This also increases the danger to staff from hidden mines and cluster munitions.

Herpa product manager Stefan Blank hands over the model of the Johanniter Christmas truck to Ulrich Kraus. Photo: Johanniter

Miniature as a thank you

"Last year, to mark the 30th anniversary of Johanniter Christmas Trucker, we thought up something special for our helpers," says Ulrich Kraus, Christmas Trucker Project Manager. "Together with Herpa, we had a miniature model made of the Johanniter Christmas Truck." It is a gift for the hard-working helpers all over Germany. "The model has been very well received by volunteers," says Kraus happily. "People keep asking me about it." The campaign is only made possible with lots of helping hands. And it is already clear that Johanniter will be calling for donations for Johanniter Christmas Trucker once again in 2024.

Photos: [1] Mani Gutau (Johanniter), [2] Marcel Kohler (Johanniter) und [3] Marion Martin (Johanniter)
Text: Mathias Neigenfind
Titlephoto: Stefan Urban

Data, figures and facts 2023

70,241 parcels packed
2,225 parcels were distributed in Germany
450,000 euros in donations
7 countries (including Germany) to which the aid has gone