Johnson Matthey Battery Systems in Poland work with Noble Parcel charity to ensure that families in need can enjoy Christmas too

Johnson Matthey Battery Systems in Poland

Christmas is a major celebration in Polish culture, but for disadvantaged families, life is an economic struggle and the traditional exchange of presents is beyond their means. The community charity Szlachetna Paczka ('Noble Parcel' or 'Noble Box') works to make sure that families in need can enjoy Christmas too.

Gliwice in southern Poland, where Johnson Matthey Battery Systems has one of its sites, has a population of around 190,000, some of whom live in difficult circumstances. The charity runs a Noble Parcel operation in the city at Christmas – but it is entirely dependent on the efforts of volunteers who coordinate the giving and encourage donations.

This is giving with a difference. The gift parcels are specifically targeted at the recipient families who have been identified and visited by the charity. An anonymous database of families is set up, listing their specific needs. Donors can go online, see what is needed and make their gifts to match real needs.

Karolina Wojtowicz, Office Coordinator for Johnson Matthey Battery Systems, leads the efforts on behalf of the company. In 2011, the results were already impressive, with the company making the second biggest donation in the city. Building on this achievement, Karolina led the site to even greater success in 2012. Almost all of the workforce of 380 took part, providing tinned food, household goods, toys and clothes. Their donations were complemented by a contribution from Johnson Matthey of £500 (2,500 zloty). All in all, the Johnson Matthey team of volunteers put together 90 boxes of goods. At the business' Gliwice site, the boxes were assembled before being delivered to the recipient families.

The project taps in to a very human wish to contribute to charities whose impact is visible. "One of the best parts of the project is observing how much people want to help if they can see the results," says Karolina. "Delivering the gifts to the families is also very rewarding – they are often people who have never received a gift from anyone."

Some of the items donated were clothes or household items – such as chairs and sofas – that that the original owners no longer needed. In this way the items were given a second life – an example of how 'waste' can be reused in a circular way, rather than going to landfill. By 'closing the loop' and finding new uses for redundant goods, these actions help to conserve the planet and its resources. In this spirit, after Christmas one Johnson Matthey Battery Systems employee who was refurbishing her flat gave all her old furniture to one of the families.

A real community spirit was ignited at the Gliwice site, with the whole team and employees from three separate shifts all pulling together to give practical help to local families in need. The success of the project has inspired the business' sister site in Dundee to devise a similar scheme for Christmas 2013 in Scotland. The Gliwice site is participating again in 2013 too.

Social change is often down to individuals who inspire colleagues and friends to contribute to a better world. Karolina Wojtowicz provided inspirational leadership in the Noble Parcels activities – she has now been appointed a voluntary leader for the charity in Gliwice, responsible for all the logistics in the area – and was commended by the panel of judges for her work. "What started out as an individual effort has now grown into something the whole Gliwice site is involved in. The project is clearly having a major impact and very much addresses local needs," read the judges' citation, as they conferred a Sustainability Award 2012/13 on Johnson Matthey Battery Systems for its involvement in the Noble Parcel community activities.