17 Dec 2021
12 min
ilustração de árvores de natal
ilustração de árvores de natal

With EDP's 10th Christmas Volunteering Campaign, our volunteers warm up their soul and nourish the spirit of those who need it most. Without borders and for all causes - that's how we could describe EDP volunteers.

We are at Rui Cabral's house. The Christmas spirit is in the air, as shown by the decoration that illuminates one of the corners in Rui's living room and the busy look of his kitchen table. This is where Rui is preparing the last Christmas hamper to be delivered to families in need, while his seven-year-old daughter Diana draws a Christmas card to be included in the hamper. There is cod, the so-called "faithful friend, which is mandatory," cookies, jams, flour, rice and "a chocolate bar to warm up the soul." This is exactly the kind of warmth the EDP employee and volunteer speaks of while sealing the hamper with a carefully selected ribbon, saying that he knows this will not change anyone's life, but that he has “hope that the family which receives one of these hampers will at least have a slightly warmer Christmas Eve.”

A coworker challenged Rui to urge his team to participate in this EDP volunteering campaign. He then created a WhatsApp group where he asked for everyone's help, and soon the entire team was game.

Rui Cabral is one of the many volunteers involved in this EDP Christmas Volunteering Campaign. Held in the context of the pandemic, with so many uncertainties and so much social distancing, this Christmas campaign - like all EDP volunteering campaigns in 2020 - aims to address the social emergency ravaging the country, which was exacerbated by the side effects of Covid-19, such as unemployment, layoffs, and economic disruption in general. Tackling poverty and social isolation - the two targets of the EDP Christmas Volunteering Program in 2020 - is the goal that brings together active and retired employees, friends, customers and EDP partners - a race to do good deeds which has already mobilized 5,000 participants worldwide through the various volunteering campaigns available on the company's platform.

Volunteers without borders and for all causes

The partners for this year's Christmas campaign are the charity organizations ENTRAJUDA and CASA - Homeless Support Center. For each Christmas hamper donated to any of these institutions, EDP will double the offer in an effort to reach as many families in need as possible. In addition to foodstuffs, EDP has also challenged employees to donate sleeping bags to CASA, which will then give them to homeless people. But the EDP Volunteering Program is not focused on Christmas alone, nor solely on our country. Operating all over the world, but with a particularly strong presence in Portugal and Spain - as well as across Europe, Brazil, and the US -, the EDP Volunteering Program has mobilized about 40,000 volunteers and impacted over one million people since 2011, the year EDP decided to formalize its commitment to helping others - which incidentally has always been part of the company's DNA. “The EDP Volunteering Program is a one that cuts across all geographies, and therefore it is also present, like the Christmas campaign, in Brazil, the US, Spain, and other places in Europe. We roll out our Christmas campaign every year, in all these places, and always with the goal of humanizing Christmas for people in need” says Francisca Nunes, member of the EDP Volunteering team.

To mention only a few examples, in Spain and Brazil the Christmas campaign includes gifts to institutionalized children or families in need and EDP's participation in charity sales. Throughout the rest of the year, in different countries where EDP is present, the collaborators can activate 4 hours during working hours to get involved in different projects promoted by the company, as a focus in areas of social and energy inclusion, protection of biodiversity and training, but also provides its causes.

The same applies to Portugal. Whenever an emergency arises, volunteers apply their inexhaustible energy to address the crisis the best way they can. It happened after the fateful forest fires in Pedrogão Grande, it happened in 2019 to address the catastrophe that ravaged Mozambique, and it has been happening since the beginning of the pandemic - from mentoring students at a distance to providing computers to those who needed them most in the early days of the pandemic crisis, when we were all forced to reinvent our homes as offices or schools for our children. “In the face of a social emergency, which is what we are experiencing in Portugal and all over the world, the feeling is that of urgency. In this case, the urgency is even greater. There are families asking for help for the first time in their lives, unemployment is rising, there are people whose life has been interrupted by the pandemic, whose professional projects and family life have been severely impacted. We at EDP could not remain indifferent; we did not want to remain indifferent” says EDP Volunteering Manager Rita Monteiro.

Towards a warmer Christmas

We scheduled an appointment with Rita Monteiro and Francisca Nunes, both from the EDP Volunteering Program, at ENTRAJUDA, in Alcântara, Lisbon. Created by Isabel Jonet 16 years ago, this charity organization receives a wide range of goods, from food and clothing to computer items and furniture. The map that served as a backdrop for our conversation shows that ENTRAJUDA chapters dot the entire country, including the islands, and reflects the strength of charity in Portugal. The numerous crates stacked in a very wide space speak for themselves and are ready to reach those who need them the most. “I think it is very rewarding when companies like EDP commit to and invest in volunteering, because these are companies which have a culture of doing things differently and competently,” says Isabel Jonet about this partnership with EDP.

Francisca Nunes explains that this partnership with ENTRAJUDA is not new and that they have worked with this association on several fronts. “The partnership with CASA kicked off this year, because with this social emergency we have identified new areas in need of urgent action. One of them is the need to fight isolation and support underprivileged people, including homeless people, whose numbers have been rising,” says Francisca Nunes.

This is also what Nuno Jardim, the director-general of CASA, says when he mentions that with the pandemic there was a need to reinvent the countrywide 1,400-volunteer association he manages. "In addition to working together with other charities, there was also a lot of support from regional authorities and businesses."

What moves them?

According to Rita Monteiro, “it is the desire to be close to the communities and the belief that our people - with what they are, what they know, and their skills - can make a difference and change the world around them.”

Margarida Boavida, another EDP volunteer, is still discovering what it means to be a volunteer. This Christmas Campaign is only the second charity initiative in which she has been involved, but she feels much more prepared to help those in need. “Being a volunteer is more than simply giving, buying and donating. It is a way of life you adopt gradually, and in which everyone has their own time and pace. And EDP plays a key role here, because it's like a fuse, a trigger, a reminder that is sent to you, and it's a very important job.”

From Porto, another EDP volunteer, Cláudio Vieira Alves mentions the feeling of comfort he gets from being involved in thee campaigns. Like his coworker Rui Cabral, Cláudio is also a regular in the Junior Achievement volunteering program, which gives him the chance to train children and young people as part of the EDP training program for active life, citizenship, and entrepreneurship. And like Margarida, he also believes that there is more to volunteering than the act of giving. “I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I believe in the kindness of people - and I believe that these people will, in fact, have a warmer Christmas when they receive a hamper, which is not a shopping list but a hamper with a Christmas message, a hamper with our love and affection.” According to him, this is a “bucket of hope” for many families. According to Rui, “it is a source of pride and an extra motivation which EDP gives to its workers. The company gives, but it also receives a lot.”

And according to Isabel Jonet, “volunteering is good for all of us. It forces us to come out of ourselves and even to pay more attention to the world around us.”

ilustração de árvores de natal
ilustração de árvores de natal