“Gifts from the kitchen” was the motto used to sell delicacies at the Ludwigsburg Christmas market this year. The Christmas campaign took place on December 2nd, 2013 as a joint venture between aufwind e.V., a charity for children and young people, and MANN+HUMMEL, to collect money for socio-medical aftercare and funding for the Ludwigsburg Children’s Hospital.
Employees from MANN+HUMMEL and the Children’s Hospital prepared and supplied the “gifts from the kitchen” on sale, which included a rich variety of home-made Christmas biscuits, cakes, jams and nibbles of all kinds. Those manning the stall were enthusiastically supported by Hummeli, the MANN+HUMMEL mascot, who was actively promoting the stand at the Christmas market.
Volunteers were sought in advance to go dressed as Hummeli and the Christmas Angel and encourage people to make donations.
The instant my colleague Silke Schenk and me heard the call, we knew we had to take part and signed up for the first shift. What could be more fun than going to the Christmas market dressed as Hummeli and the Christmas Angel? If it were in the name of a good cause too, then so much the better!
It’s not that easy, turning yourself into Hummeli. The costume consists of several elements – the head, shoes, upper body, wings and trousers. It has a built-in ventilator and you definitely need help putting it on. Despite it being winter, the temperature was fine, although it was a little cold on the feet – after all, you can’t get into the feet of the Hummeli costume wearing your own shoes. That said, with three pairs of woollen socks, one on top of the other, we overcame the problem.
At eleven o’clock, we turned up for the first shift. Hummeli (Silke Schenk) got started straight away with lots of waving and cuddling. The Christmas Angel (myself) was laden down with sweets as thank-you gifts and my collecting box, and I had a bit of trouble at first making sure that Hummeli didn’t accidentally knock over some small visitor with her enormous wings, or wave in the wrong direction. The view from inside the costume is very restricted and it is important to have a helper at your side.
After a short while the two of us were working well as a team and could even put on a little dance whenever the attention of passers-by waned. It was interesting to observe how people generally tended to stare straight ahead in a slightly grumpy way and tried to ignore everything around them. However Hummeli and the Christmas Angel put so much effort into drawing attention to the ‘aufwind e.V.’ stand that despite this, most of the time there was a little group of people gathered around Hummeli and that in itself attracted others to come and see.
Funnily enough, small children, who were the intended target group, tended to be a bit frightened of Hummeli, so it took a lot of encouragement to persuade them to come for a cuddle or a group photo. Lots of adults, on the other hand, especially groups of Japanese tourists, had great fun getting themselves photographed with Hummeli. Almost everyone was very willing to make a donation to the Children’s Hospital or buy one of the treats from the stand.
We did have to clear up a few misunderstandings, though, such as, “Have things got so bad at MANN+HUMMEL that you have to hold street collections now?” Most visitors obviously knew straight away that Hummeli was the MANN+HUMMEL mascot, although now and then people would say “Bye bye, Maya the Bee” (a reference to the main character in a popular German children’s book series). Ultimately it was a brilliant couple of hours for us, which certainly benefited the Children’s Hospital. We also had some fun, for instance when Hummeli met her uncle, who of course didn’t recognise his niece under the costume. He was suitably baffled when we told him Hummeli was related to him and he really ought to make a donation.
It was fantastic being able to promote MANN+HUMMEL in a friendly way like this and do something good for others. We’re already looking forward to taking part again next year and we wish all our colleagues a Happy Christmas!