All the regular activities that make the Trainee Programme so special have been cancelled or, in better cases, moved online due to coronavirus. Unfortunately, the same also applies to volunteering. However, at the end of December 2020, we got the opportunity to help at the animal shelter Dogsy and spend some time working in the fresh air. Without hesitation, we quickly put together a group of volunteers and headed to Jestřebí, a village near Doksy.
It’s Saturday morning, the last weekend before Christmas. It's freezing outside, but instead of baking Christmas cookies, we’re putting on ŠKODA overalls. There are six of us and we’re heading to the animal shelter Dogsy to help with pre-Christmas cleaning and decorating the Christmas tree.
Although trainees usually like to get involved in any activities, this time most of them had already gone home the last weekend before Christmas. We couldn't even persuade them with the promise of seeing puppies, as most dogs had already found their new homes before the Christmas holidays.
Upon arrival in Jestřebí, we see a burning fire with a tempting promise of baked sausages for lunch. But that has to wait, because we came here to clean up! After parking, we join the group of volunteers who arrived before us. This isn’t the first time trainees have been here – animal shelter Dogsy is one of the organizations we help regularly.
One of the project teams that trainees can join is the CSR team, which is in charge of organizing volunteer activities. We have been cooperating with several charitable organizations for a long time and we are still trying to find and support new ones.
Recently, however, due to Covid-19-related restrictions, it’s been very difficult to personally help our long-term partners. Instead, we focus more on remote assistance, e. g. financially supporting the youth centre Ekocentrum zahrada in Mladá Boleslav or organizing a charity collection of clothes for children's homes. In short, we try to make the most out of the current situation, so that the less fortunate ones aren’t deprived of our help.
The animal shelter building used to be a pig farm, so now the oinking is replaced by barking. After the pig farm was gone, the disused former building with a large plot of land had a huge potential. Two animal lovers, Veronika Slavíková and Markéta Sýkorová, decided to build a shelter there to help dogs in need.
They didn’t stop at helping dogs, though. Last year, the shelter also saved several cats, rabbits and two horses. For the project to reach its full potential, a lot of work and resources are still needed to help complete the shelter.
At present, there are several kennels on the plot where the doggies are happily awaiting their new owners. We made this waiting more pleasant for two of them by taking them for a walk, which marked the end of the big pre-Christmas cleaning.
We returned from Jestřebí frozen but satisfied that after a long time, we were able to get involved again and help our favourite shelter. We’ll happily return there, as it’s clear with every new visit that the shelter is flourishing. The energy that all enthusiasts put into it pays off. What is more, helping others is the nicest gift you can give, and not just at Christmas!
Jitka Buriánková – Trainee, CSR Team Leader