For a fourth fiscal year* in a row, Mazda's partnership with the SOS Children's Villages organisation helped children and young adults across Europe. SOS Children's Villages has given a home and hope to children, young people and the handicapped for more than 60 years in their own culture and religion, in a family-like atmosphere. Seven Mazda national sales companies – Mazda Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Spain – renewed their commitment a year ago and have supported SOS Children's Villages locally during the last 12 months.
Mazda Austria, where SOS Children's Villages was founded, had a very active year with several events. Not only did they continue to support the Barbakus House, a therapeutically-assisted living group at the SOS Children's Village in Moosburg, they also loaned three Mazda2s with a special exterior design to the SOS Children's Villages "MoFa" ("Mobile Families") project. The exterior decals for these Mazda2s were created by SOS children working with an Austrian graffiti artist at a special event. Mazda Austria employees also took part in the "Take Responsibility" social-initiative network in Austria with a day-long bicycle-safety event at the village in Moosburg repairing and maintaining about 60 bicycles. And last but not least, SOS teenagers visited Mazda Austria offices for two days, where they were able to get acquainted with a possible future career.
Mazda Belgium raised money for SOS Children's Village by organising a charity walk (5 or 10 km) and pancake feed, which attracted many enthusiastic Mazda employees as well as their families and friends.
As in past years, Mazda Croatia's support this year was in the background, but extremely vital. They provided funding for annual overhead costs (electricity, gas, water etc.) for two SOS Children's Village houses in Lekenik. Several Mazda employees visited the village in winter as well, and had a great time with the children playing outside in the snow and building snowmen.
Mazda Czech Republic donated funds to support a first-aid facility for children in need in Karlovy Vary. They also organized an exciting photo contest event for SOS children in cooperation with Mazda fan clubs. The children took photos in different categories using Nikon cameras, and when they weren't taking pictures the kids could take rides in a Mazda MX-5 roadster. The photos were then posted on a website created especially for them, and people, including employees, were asked to vote for their favourite pictures. Based on these votes, a committee of Mazda employees chose the winners, which were then exhibited at a big Christmas bash held at the JET SET club in Prague with the winning children in attendance.
Mazda Motors Deutschland continued its support of SOS Children's Villages for a fourth year in a row as well. This past year they donated funds to renovate a multi-functional room at a youth centre that the German SOS organisation recently took over in Düsseldorf, which is very near Mazda's German (and European) headquarters in Leverkusen. Mazda Volunteers also helped plan and provided support at the official opening celebration of the SOS children and youth help in Düsseldorf organised by the local SOS team. On the day of the event, both German and European Mazda employees were on hand to make the opening a huge success by taking part in the games and activities.
This past year, Mazda Hungary loaned a Mazda5 to an SOS children's village for one month, and funded all fuel costs, so the children could visit their biological parents. This Mazda5 had a special exterior design created in a drawing competition among the SOS children. Mazda volunteers not only planned this event, several employees volunteered their time and were on hand to help the children draw pictures and make it a really fun day for the kids.
Mazda Spain's support of the SOS Children's Villages was carried out within the framework of the well known "For a Million Kisses" campaign, which seeks to help 20,000 children not only in Spain, but also in Africa and Latin America. Every time a Mazda vehicle was sold in Spain, Mazda donated one "kiss". The organisation also donated a used Mazda2 to the SOS organisation for use in vocational training of young mechanic apprentices, and they loaned two Mazda5s to SOS for logistics.
Also other national sales companies of Mazda thought of ways to help SOS Children's Villages. Mazda Italy, for example, conducted a two day "solidarity shopping" in their office before Christmas, raising money for the SOS Children's Village in Ostuni, Italy.
"We regard SOS Children's Village as trustworthy partner and are happy to help in so many ways," said Jeff Guyton, President and CEO of Mazda Motor Europe. "For over 60 years their family focus has given a home and education to needy children in their own culture and religion, and this is what makes them so special. It's an honour to have helped for four years running, and an honour to work with colleagues who again and again choose to volunteer their time to this effort."