Give encouragement, alleviate hardship, and set an example, especially when people have suffered hardship. This is a matter close to the hearts of the employees and senior management of the Friedhelm Loh Group – wherever they live and work, regionally and internationally. After the shocking images emerged from Turkey and Syria, together they therefore very quickly collected 380,000 euros for the earthquake victims in the two countries. The annual employee donations in 2022 had already raised 200,000 euros for charitable causes, which will now be distributed to eleven organisations through the Rittal Foundation.
“Your willingness to sympathise with the suffering of people and to help them is moving and exemplary,” says Professor Friedhelm Loh, Owner and CEO of the Friedhelm Loh Group, addressing the employees after the rapid special donation campaign for the earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey. With the donated sum being tripled by the owner, a total of 380,000 euros was raised for those affected. Which institutions are to receive the funds is now under examination: “This disaster makes an impression on us all. We stand in solidarity with everyone who is affected – and we will work together with some of our Turkish employees to make sure that our donation goes directly to the people in need,” says Professor Loh.
Unbureaucratic assistance and sustainable commitment
Working together – this is also the motto of the Group’s traditional annual employee donation campaign. In addition to the rapid emergency aid for the earthquake victims, a further 200,000 euros can therefore now be distributed to charitable institutions in the regions where the company sites are located, as well as to international aid organisations. Support is being given to a total of eleven organisations: The Debora Foundation India, the Hephata diaconal relief organisation in Schwalmstadt-Treysa, the SOS Children’s Village in Gera, the Protestant integrative daycare centre in Monheim, the Caritas workshops in Montabaur, the Christian Hospice Service in Görlitz, the counselling centre in Dillenburg, the church welfare centre in Heckengäu, the Oberlausitz children’s aid organisation, the Hessian food banks and the counselling centre for people with mental disabilities in the Altenkirchen district will receive donations.
Where help makes an impact – Debora Foundation India
It is people like Danjaa, 16, who are given hope by the aid funds. When her parents died in a car accident five years ago, she moved in with her sister into an impoverished hut on the outskirts of the Indian city of Bangalore – the floor made of mud, the walls of thin cloth sheets. Breaking the vicious circle of poverty through own efforts is practically impossible. Women like Danjaa, who belong to the lowest caste in India, have virtually no chance of earning a living. At the end of 2022, an aid project run by the Debora Foundation changed everything. She was given a sewing machine and was taught how to sew masks and school uniforms at one of the sewing schools. Her goal: Danjaa was determined to save the money so that she could fulfil her great dream: to study medicine.
Founded in 2018 and named after Debora Loh, the wife of Professor Friedhelm Loh, the foundation’s vision is to enable children and adolescents from poor backgrounds to receive an education. In addition to emergency aid, sustainable projects such as sewing schools and the construction of an education centre are being pushed forward. To date, 90 women have taken part in the sewing courses, while nearly 600 children are also being given extra tuition at educational facilities in the villages around Bangalore – and the number is rising. These projects are being supported by the Group's annual donation of 50,000 euros.
Hessian Hephata Diaconia Centre: Special rooms for special children
Another example of what the employee donations are being used for: 18-year-old Raja, who has a congenital mental development disorder, has been attending the special school at the Hephata main campus in Schwalmstadt for twelve years.
The initial interaction with classmates was difficult at the time, says her teacher Astrid Meyer-Breither. However, thanks to the special support she received, Raja quickly showed positive development.
At the special schools, children and young people like Raja are given the support they require for their needs. However, the roof of the Herman Schuchard School, which has been in existence since 1978, is not only in need of renovation, but is now leaking as well. Some of the rooms that are so important for children like Raja are no longer usable. “We will therefore use the donation of 30,000 euros to renovate the roof,” says Johannes Fuhr, press spokesman for the organisation. “The donation is making an impact and comes at just the right time.”
Hessian food banks: Helping the helpers
Among the recipients of donations are the Hessian food banks. “The war in Ukraine and the high inflation resulted in an uninterrupted influx,” says Willi Schmid, Chairman of the Hessian regional food bank association. In total, 135,000 needy people are being supported with food throughout Hesse. That is 35,000 more than a year ago and includes many Ukrainian refugees. For the mainly volunteer staff and drivers, this means a mammoth logistical task. “This can only succeed with external financial support,” emphasises Schmid.
“The 20,000 euros in aid funds from the annual donation is, therefore, part of a two-year support programme,” says Rainer Reissner, CEO of the charitable Rittal Foundation of the Friedhelm Loh Group. “The project is particularly close to our hearts,” explains Reissner. “We take our responsibility seriously and are pleased that our help is making a tangible difference to the situation of many people here in the region.”
“It is our collective society”
How the aid gets to the people: In 2011, Prof. Friedhelm Loh established the Rittal Foundation to mark the 50th anniversary of Rittal, the Group’s largest member company. Since then, it has used the proceeds from its foundation capital to support charitable organisations and projects in the fields of education, social welfare work, integration, the environment, culture and science. As Prof. Friedhelm Loh emphasises: “We are all part of the society we live in. We all have a responsibility, and we stand together – with and for the most vulnerable members of our community. And as a group, we take this to heart.”