The collaboration between Leica and the non-profit-making organization Kinderlachen e.V. has certainly paid off. On the afternoon of March 26, 2015, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann presented the CEO of Kinderlachen e.V., Christian Vosseler, with a check for 5,000 Euros. The money was raised through a series of fundraising events organized by the company. On June 13, 2015, two unique Leica cameras (one Leica M and one Leica M-E) with Kinderlachen designs will be auctioned off at the Westlicht Auction House in Vienna. Christian Vosseler, CEO of Kinderlachen e.V. and Marc Peine, Managing Director of Kinderlachen e.V., discuss the collaboration between their organization and Leica Camera below.
Q: Tell us a little about the history of the Kinderlachen e.V. association.
A: It all began when I played Father Christmas for some family friends. The unbridled joy in the children’s eyes was the initial spark for me. What started out as a hobby soon developed into a concrete idea: offering prompt help to children in need!
Anyone who has spent Christmas Eve with seriously ill children in hospital will know that the day takes on whole new meaning. Since then, it has become our Christmas Eve ritual to give a gift to every child who has to spend the festive season in hospital.
We have been known as the Kinderlachen e.V. association since 2002. Today, we support both children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who are seriously ill, in hospital for instance. Currently, we are involved in 161 very different projects, mainly in Germany.
Q: What is the main idea and focus of the Kinderlachen association?
A: We don’t have a specific focus in the classic sense. Our support ranges from ‘last requests’ and severe disabilities that are no longer covered by insurance companies to public institutions that have been affected by spending cuts, such as nurseries, playgrounds, children’s homes and children’s hospitals.
We don’t donate cash. We only fund things that are palpable. We accept money and make appropriate donations. For example, we fund the restoration of out-dated playgrounds.
Q: How do you receive projects?
A: One avenue is through requests for help. Alternatively, we come across areas of action with grievances, which we then help to alleviate or eliminate. Every project has its own unique story. We always try to offer ourselves as a long-term partner to our projects.
Q: How did the ‘Kids paint the Leica M’ project begin?
A: The Leica Experience Days gave children the opportunity to make and paint cut-out cameras. Our patron Martin Hartweg saw this as a chance to embark upon a collaborative project with Leica. The idea originated in a lift. Mr Beier (Managing Director of CW Sonderoptic GmbH) suggested that the leftover craft sheets could be used for other children. It was then quickly agreed that Leica could create a camera based on the creative ideas of children. For this, we provided two primary schools in Dortmund with 140 craft sheets to paint. Everyone was so impressed by the children’s creativity that Leica decided to produce two cameras.
Q: What did the children have to do?
A: During lessons, the children used the craft sheets to make cameras that they were then free to paint as they pleased, without any instruction. Their creativity knew no bounds: colours, shapes, patterns and even the use of rhinestones.
The children not only had great fun assembling the cardboard Leica M prototypes, but also created real works of art when it came to their decoration. We were all amazed by the diversity of the ideas, which obviously made choosing the winners very difficult.
Q: What did you find particularly interesting about the collaboration with Leica?
A: For us, Leica is the Rolls Royce of cameras. The special thing about the company is its strong sense of solidarity, which creates a very family-like atmosphere – just like at Kinderlachen e.V. Our collaboration was very relaxed and incredibly enjoyable and professional.
Q: What is happening with the cameras?
In June, a Leica M and a Leica M-E camera, with completely unique designs, will be auctioned in Vienna. All of the auction proceeds will go towards our projects. Since these are one-off products that were made by metal artist Helmut Lutter in collaboration with Leica production specialists, they present an enormous appeal to professional collectors.
Q: What will be done with the money raised? Who or which activities will it benefit?
A: Firstly, on behalf of the children, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to Leica for the donation of 5,000 Euros.  A total of 2,500 Euros was raised from a collection amongst employees and visitors, and Leica generously doubled this amount. We are using this to help a project for children with HIV in Berlin by funding the construction of a football pitch for them. This project has existed for 15 years and we have made regular visits there since 2001.
Some of the money will also be used to buy a special syringe for complicated vein examinations for sick children. We don’t yet know how much the auction will raise. How we use it will ultimately depend on how high this amount is. Once we know, we will decide where the money should be used together with Leica. Since many projects also emerge spontaneously – for instance, we currently have requests to support operations for Ukrainian children – we are not yet able to say where the funds will go.
We are extremely grateful to Leica for its collaboration. We are always delighted when generous donors help us. With such fantastic ideas, Leica is guaranteed to grow, to
Thank you for your time!
– Leica Internet Team
Read the interview in its original German. Connect with Kinderlachen e.V. on their website.