There was a run at the Catharinakerk in Eindhoven on Wednesday afternoon. Heaters, blankets and footmuffs were given away to poor people in front of the church. “It feels like a godsend,” says a woman visibly emotional.
She came by bike from Geldrop to be at the moment of distribution. Not only for herself, but also for an elderly friend who was unable to make the trip. “I’m in debt restructuring and that friend of mine h state pension. We don’t have two a cents to rub together, so this really feels like a gift from heaven”, she says while trying to hold back her tears. Another woman who has just acquired a footmuff and heater is less enthusiastic. “I think the initiative is great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s crazy that this is necessary in a country like the Netherlands.”
it’s a shame
The initiator, Hugo van Rooij of the (Z)onder Dak foundation, would also have preferred it not to be necessary. Normally he is committed to the homeless, but with the increasing number of residents struggling due to the high cost of living, he decided to launch this scheme. That idea came about three or four months ago. “I received a message from a family that was out in the cold, actually asking if I could do something for them. And that’s how the ball started rolling, but I didn’t expect it to become so big.”
In total, seven hundred heaters, blankets and footmuffs were distributed. Bought piece by piece by Van Rooij, partly with the help of donations. Those products were gone in no time, because people were waiting in long queues. “Someone just came and I had to disappoint them. In retrospect I think ‘Hugo, if you had bought more stuff, you could have helped more people’.”
However, joy reigns among the crowd. ‘Hugo, thanks’, one can hear everywhere. “Without this heater I would have been out in the cold. I hoped it wouldn’t freeze too much, because the pipes would also freeze soon. Then I’d be in even deeper trouble, because I can’t afford to have repairs done. So I’m very happy with the heater.”
For Eindhoven News: Lila Mehrez