The Malta Community Chest Fund
The Malta Community Chest Fund, under the Chairmanship of HE Dr George Abela, the President of the Republic of Malta is the premier philanthropic organisation on the Island.
The Fund in its’ current form has now been established for over 30 years although it can trace its’ origins to the late 1950’s. The aim of the Fund is to generate, throughout the year, the maximum amount of income from various forms of activities and then to distribute it to organisations, persons and families in need. In the financial year ending March 2012 the Fund distributed over €2.9 million split up between assistance given to individuals and societies, Non-Governmental Organisations, for medical treatment and special equipment for use by persons with disabilities. Very often substantial amounts are paid to individuals and their families who for certain reasons have to undergo medical treatment overseas, as well as for certain treatment locally which is not state funded.
In any society there are always individuals whose needs far outweigh their means. The aim of the fund is to alleviate these needs through grants ranging from amounts of a few hundred Euro for school uniforms or the purchase of a household commodity to the funding of a major medical intervention overseas running into many thousands of Euro. Very often the Fund is approached to reimburse the cost of travel and accommodation of individuals’ relatives who need to travel abroad with a sick person, particularly children. A working group, under the chairmanship of Mrs Abela, meets weekly to scrutinise each application for assistance which is then decided purely on basis of the individual’s real needs.
Grants to Non-Governmental Organisations are as a rule made only for capital projects. Homes for persons with disabilities, mental health problems, drug addiction, children’s homes or even temporary accommodation for homeless persons recently released from prison are typical of the many schemes funded. Grants are not made to cover the running costs of an organisation.
Activites run by the Fund to raise money are held throughout the year, reaching their climax in the months of November and December each year. The August Moon Ball, and Rockestra are well established as annual events, but from the beginning of November onwards there is hardly a week that goes by that some event connected with L-Istrina (literal translation – Christmas Box) is not taking place. The Malta Community Chest Fund is the catalyst for the many societies and organisations that run events to raise funds. Major commercial and financial undertakings contribute handsomely in kind and in cash. Major events like the Auction of Paintings (donated by the artists), the Fun Run (over 14,000 participating runners over a 7 km leisurely run) and Paqpaqli ghal-L’Istrina, (a motorfest for car enthusiasts) are all very popular and well established – others are more modest affairs but they all come together for the major fund-raiser of the year on Boxing Day – a marathon 12 hours of fund raising by telephone, SMSs and donations in person by individuals, corporations and organisations. This year L-Istrina had the added attraction of being held at three locations- the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Smart City Malta and Gozo.
The Strina slogan is ‘L-Istrina mill-Qalb’ translated as ‘A Christmas Box from One’s Heart’.