Sinterklaas is back this weekend and the toy banks and exchange locations are preparing extra well this year. Previously mainly parents on minimum incomes knocked on their door. However, now even two working parents can often no longer afford the expensive month of December.
“We are seeing a shift. Many familiar faces who desperately needed us in the past two years have not yet come by,” says Ans van den Broek, of Pompidom toys in Deurne. “We are now being called by families where both parents have paid jobs but who lose sleep thinking about ways to celebrate Sinterklaas for their children this year. They are not eligible for the additional energy compensation the lowest income groups are receiving this year”.
In Ans and Charles’ shop, parents who don’t have much to live on can pick out free toys. Previously, these were mostly people on minimum incomes. However, due to rising inflation and high energy prices, people with paid jobs are also trading the toy store for second-hand alternatives. “Those people call the store, embarrassed to tell that they also want to come by because they can’t make ends meet.”
They have heard many harrowing stories in recent weeks. Even from people who used to sponsor them. “Someone who was still sponsoring us in July stood on the doorstep in November with tears in his eyes,” says Ans. “He explained that his children are used to getting loads of presents from Sinterklaas, but that is no longer possible. Then we said, carte blanche. Pretend it’s a normal year and just grab what you need. There will come a day when he is doing well again and then we can call him again”.
At Pompidom they are ready for the arrival of all the extra Sinterklaas assitants. Ans’ warehouse and attic are still completely full, so there is plenty of stock. “The working people, the less fortunate, everyone is welcome to come to us to pick out a gift,” Charles concludes. “It’s just often just a threshold that they have to cross”.
Source : Omroep Brabant
Translated by: Shanthi Ramani