Christmas in summer: volunteering on Mount Säntis

At Christmas 2018, our customers received electronic Christmas cards for the first time. The message: Messerli will be rolling up its sleeves rather than sending out gifts in future. On 23 August, we turned our words into actions: as part of the «Christmas in summer» campaign, Messerli spent a day volunteering with the Säntisalp Alpine corporation to help repair avalanche damage.

By Mirjam Steier

A total of 26 employees signed up to volunteer on the Alp. One Friday morning, the group drove up beautiful Mount Säntis. It was there that they met the Scherrer family, owners of the Unterschottenloch Alpine hut.

Mountain farmer Jörg Scherrer told the volunteers about the avalanche that completely destroyed his barn the previous winter and filled the surrounding meadows with rocks and wood debris. This was a life-altering event for the family, and one that will be costly and work-intensive to rectify. The family will feel the financial impact of this event for many years to come.

Volunteer work that makes an immediate difference

After a restorative cup of coffee, the Messerli team began their work clearing the rocks and wood debris from the alpine meadows. This task provided more meadowland for the animals to graze on, which has a direct economic impact on the family of farmers. This day of volunteer work was also a significant contribution in terms of maintaining the cultural landscape in the mountain region.

All of the employees present really gave it their all. The first fire with wood debris was already burning and the meadows already looked much more orderly before lunchtime. With their strength restored by a delicious lunch in the Alpine hut, the team continued at the same pace throughout the afternoon.

A positive experience all around

The team brought a great deal of energy to their work and every participant went home enriched by a number of positive impressions and new experiences. The day provided us all with a much greater understanding of the challenges that farmers are confronted with in such rough terrain. The dedication and tenacity with which they maintain and cultivate their (and also our) Alpine land is truly inspiring!

The volunteer efforts were led and coordinated by the Caritas Foundation. For more than 40 years, Caritas Switzerland has connected volunteers with Swiss mountain farming families in need, whether in the event of an emergency or during work-intensive periods.

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Will there be a next time? Absolutely!

The «Christmas in summer» campaign proved to be a smashing success that confirms our decision to put our energy into volunteer efforts rather than sending out Christmas gifts every year. We are already looking forward to our next volunteer project in 2020!