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Ibiza residents unite to fight hunger and deprivation

There have been some magnificent fundraising efforts taking place on Ibiza, in the run up to Christmas. Olivia Ebeling has been getting involved.

After a difficult summer season that started late and finished early due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns and ongoing travel and hospitality restrictions, many families and individuals on the island have been struggling financially – with a growing number not able to put food on the table.

Since we launched our appeal video, raising awareness of the plight of families on the island and the magnificent efforts of islanders to join forces to find practical solutions, a large number of extra volunteers have stepped forward to offer their services. One of them was intrepid writer Olivia Ebeling, who has joined the ranks of this wonderful movement. Her story is symbolic of the many who came forward - collecting and redistributing relief to families around the island at Christmas time.

I am dressed in a bright yellow hi-vis vest, the kind you may once have spotted in the crowd at DC10. But, rather than finding myself ‘trolleyed' on one of Ibiza's dancefloors, I am standing outside a supermarket in Santa Eulalia trying to fill a shopping trolley with donations from kind strangers.

Just a few days earlier, I enrolled with Associació de Voluntaris d'Eivissa to help collect food and other necessities for the Ibiza Food Bank – an organisation that is currently estimated to be feeding between 5,000 to 6,000 island residents per week.

I am nervous. What if no one puts anything in the trolley? What if I'm the worst volunteer in the history of volunteering? Will I have to make a dash around the supermarket at the end of my shift to buy everything myself? But - after a quiet first 20 minutes – finally a woman approaches me and puts three packets of rice inside the trolley. I am so grateful I thank her profusely in my broken Spanish.

By now, most local people are already aware of the ‘Carritos Solidarios' (solidarity shopping trollies) concept managed by Marco Martín and his team. I figure out that a friendly “buenas tardes” is enough to grab the shoppers' attention. Some clearly don't want to be disturbed, but others ask me if there are specific items needed that they can pick up. Baby food, cosmetic products such as deodorant, shower gel and toothpaste, but also gluten-free food - for those with special dietary requirements - are at the top of the list today. At the end of my first shift, I finish with an almost full ‘carrito'!

The following week, I am asked to collect Christmas gifts outside a toyshop that will go to another charitable initiative: The Toy Collection Project. Founded by Sheila Falconer, Mary-Lynne Stadler, Loraine Parsons, Jean Braithwaite, Rachel Caine and Claire B, its mission was to ensure that no child in Ibiza has to go without a gift this Christmas.

“It all stemmed from a simple conversation at the lunch table. We realised that if so many people can't afford to buy food, there is no way they can afford to buy Christmas gifts,” Sheila tells me. “We wanted the children to feel valued by receiving something new and special at Christmas”.

Toy collection points were set up at various locations around the island. The initial goal was to collect 205 gifts – the exact number of children they had been given by Equip Voluntari – but in the end, they far exceeded it with 430 toys in total, meaning there are even some presents left for the upcoming Three Kings Festival.

“The first time we were at the delivery depot, a girl came in who I had been talking to on WhatsApp. She told me her boss in the U.S. had been so touched by what we were doing, he donated money for her to go and buy gifts with - she came in with 42 presents!" Sheila says. "People have been amazingly generous and we are incredibly touched."

It has been heartwarming to see Ibiza pull together in the face of adversity. All over the island - and especially in the build-up to Christmas - fundraising lunches, raffles and collections have popped up to support those who are struggling. Can Mimosa restaurant in Santa Gertrudis hosted a Ladies' Lunch with a mouth-watering festive menu and live music to raise funds, while ‘The Big Xmas Raffle' organised by Event Planner Ibiza tempted us with amazing prizes such as a spa day at Agroturismo Atzaro or an overnight stay at Hostal La Torre to boost the coffers even further.

Meanwhile, the ‘Y Yo Qué Pongo' initiative devised by Aguas de Ibiza Grand Luxe Hotel's gastronomic director, and head chef of onsite restaurant Maymanta, Omar Malpartida, ensured that 600 people could enjoy a unique and delicious feast on Christmas Eve. Together with other gastronomic eateries, including Lydia's Smokehouse, RE.ART, La Cantina Canalla and Tokio Burger, the kitchen teams created a very special holiday menu with a variety of courses that was delivered to those in need.

With up to 10,000 people expected to rely on the Ibiza Food Bank and other charitable organisations this winter, Associació de Voluntaris d'Eivissa and Equip Voluntari are set to resume their efforts in the New Year. As in most places, difficult and uncertain times still lie ahead for Ibiza – but it's wonderful to see its residents tackle them with the community spirit, creativity and generosity the island is famous for.

Please support these magnificent causes by donating whatever you can afford to give.


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