For some people in this world, spreading the Christmas cheer does not end following the holidays. These five incredible people save the money that they earn every year working in London for family-owned Christmas tree business ‘Pines & Needles’ – famous for selling to the likes of Harry and Meghan, Downing St and Madonna – and use it to fund their humanitarian missions to some of the most devastating environments in the world.
From responding to earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia to building schools in some of the most impoverished communities in Cambodia, these volunteers spend their hard earned money and dedicate most of the year to giving. For many of these volunteers, this lifestyle would not be possible without the hard-earned money that they are able to make doing seasonal Christmas tree work.
Eilidh McRae and Séan Mclaughlin met on a mission in Nepal with American Disaster Relief NGO ‘All Hands And Hearts’ following the devastating earthquake of 2015. Since then they have served in Haiti, Cambodia and recently in Indonesia following the Sulawesi tsunami. With Sean’s extensive construction background and experience coordinating teams, and Eilidh’s solid organisational and people skills, they make the perfect team on any project. They love to get their hands dirty and have a never-ending passion and energy for the work they do. During the Christmas season they work for Pines & Needles as Regional Managers whilst also assisting in setup, derig and human resources.
Dani Viana is somewhat of a travelling nomad who’s addicted to doing good. Travelling the world and volunteering for local charities and NGOs has become a way of life for him. The list of projects he has volunteered on is endless but he most recently spent 4 months building a brand new school for Cambodian based social enterprise Human-Resource Development & Language Foundation (HDLF).
Dani has also volunteered on farms, eco projects and homestays. During the Christmas season he works with Pines & Needles as an Assistant Store Manager and is notorious for being somewhat of a machine.
Nick Perry is a passionate musician who volunteers throughout the year in Cambodia bringing art and music back to the lives of people who have only just recovered from a horrific genocide. The brutal Pol Pot regime decimated all creative trades in Cambodia including music, art, dance and martial arts. Through music children and adults are able to connect with each other and forget about the past, something which is sorely missing from the education system in Cambodia. Nick will be an Assistant Manager for Pines & Needles in the coming season to help fund his activities in Cambodia.
Juan Antuña Ros is one of the directors of the HDLF, a Cambodian social enterprise that focuses on rural poverty, providing practical education, infrastructure, university scholarships and job opportunities to over 500 young people per year. Juan is an advocate for sustainable project design, zero donor dependence and locally led implementation and has also worked on international NGO/Government projects in Malaysia, East Timor, Nepal and Tanzania. Juan has been able to dedicate his life to humanitarian projects in many ways thanks to his seasonal work during Christmas. Starting off as a Sales Assistant Juan has worked his way up through the ranks of Pines & Needles and now works for the company as a Personnel Manager, recruiting fellow humanitarians to the cause!