Royal Blue Christmas surprises
Schalke provided a thrilling a comeback in the derby against Dortmund as the first half of the season drew to a close, and things have only been getting better since on the field. However off the field, the club and its charity foundation ‘Schalke hilft!’ have been busy getting into the Christmas spirit.
“Thanks for your goal against Dortmund!” That is how Mr Rodrigues, better known by most as Naldo, was enthusiastically greeted when he arrived at the Christmas party for fans with disabilities at the VELTINS-Arena. This followed an afternoon of biscuit baking in the kitchen at the Arena with his teammates Coke, Franco Di Santo and Sascha Riether together with the kids in Schalke’s handball and track & field teams.
The rest of the team, divided into two groups, visited young patients at the child cancer station at the Essen University Hospital as well as the child & youth clinic in Gelsenkirchen-Buer. Armed with gifts, autographs and endless chocolate, all of which were donated by Schalke’s premium partner AllyouneedFresh, they took the time to provide a welcome distraction from the daily grind of living in hospital.
Leon Goretzka was not able to accompany the team to their visits. However whilst the vice-captain has been out with injury in recent weeks, he took the opportunity to invite a group of people undergoing grief counselling in Gelsenkirchen with a company named LAVIA e.V. to Schalke’s stadium. Before the match, he gave his young visitors an exclusive tour, leading them through the player tunnel, changing rooms and inside of the ground. He later treated them to a Currywurst and drinks, as well as taking questions from his guests.
Schalke legends Klaus Fischer and Rüdiger Abramczik attended the fan club „Alte Liebe“ at a care centre in Gelsenkirchen just before Christmas day. Together with the fan club members, they sang Christmas tunes, handed out some small presents and shared memories over coffee and cake.
Chief financial officer Peter Peters, alongside Schalke heroes Olaf Thon and Martin Max as well as an array of hard-working volunteers were very busy during the DFB-Cup last 16 clash with 1. FC Köln. They were handing out warm blankets, hats and scarves to all wheelchair users in the stadium. The club also took the opportunity to honour the volunteers for disabled fans and to thank them for their excellent work.
Even though playing two games a week meant a jam-packed build-up to Christmas for the team, Domenico Tedesco and his coaching staff were still ready to put their energies towards supporting an initiative by ‘Schalke hilft!’. They chose to take part in the “Warm during the night” programme, which has secured its spot in the Schalke Christmas calendar in recent years. “It is important that we all appreciate how lucky we actually are and to give something back to those who are not,” Tedesco stressed, explaining why the coaching team decided to help the homeless.
The board have been taking part in a similarly generous tradition for several years now, visiting the rainbow house on the third day of the advent calendar, a facility which also cares for the homeless and socially deprived members of society. Peter Peters, Christian Heidel and Alex Jobst gave out some tasty Christmas treats as well as bringing with them a box full of Christmas gifts.