The Gouda Christmas Angel Marcel: ‘I want to give children really good memories of Christmas’

At the beginning of December, we asked you which Gouwenaar deserves to be in the spotlight this year. From the many heartwarming recommendations, we chose Marcel van Waas (63) as Gouda Juleengel 2022. Together with his wife Tineke (61), he has been involved in Gouda minima for years. We interrupted the preparations for their big children’s Christmas party to surprise the couple with a beautiful gift package.

“Fantastic! We were really very surprised that we have been named Gouda’s Christmas Angel.” Marcel and Tineke knew nothing about our appeal and are deeply touched to receive the gift package. As far as we are concerned, Marcel deserves his title because of the hundreds of bikes he repairs and gives away every year. In addition, the couple has organized a grand Christmas party for years for children from less fortunate families and they act as Secret Santa. And that’s just a sampling of the couple’s activities. Because sitting still is not an option when so many people could use help.

Santa Marcel and his wife Tineke. Photo: Michael Block

Everyone has a nice Christmas memory

“It’s also our upbringing,” says Marcel, “I come from a large and cozy family. We did everything for each other and did a lot together. We may not have had much, but our Sinterklaas and Christmas parties were always perfect.” Marcel beams when he talks about the long Sinterklaas evenings from his youth. “Many gifts were homemade, my parents had worked on it for several months. I remember some nice knitted mittens I got when I was seven or eight. I was allowed to wear it when shortly afterwards I had to go to pick up a Christmas tree with my father. The atmosphere, you know, stays with you.” Marcel gives each child such a warm Sinterklaas or Christmas party. “I want to give children really good memories of Christmas, which will make them beautiful people later on. I really believe that.”

Children’s Christmas on the street

It takes time to make beautiful memories possible, so Marcel and Tineke start their preparations in June. “Then we think about how we want to approach it and what we need,” says Marcel. The publication of the party follows in October in the Facebook group ‘I give away Gouda’. “We can receive a maximum of 100 children and their parents, so registration is necessary.” The party is intended for children up to 12 years of age from underprivileged families in Gouda. “Together we ensure that they too can have a good Christmas.”

“We probably have way too much.” Photo: Marcel van Waas

Savings and sponsors

And it will be a grand party if it’s up to him. “There are so many people who come to help, it’s really nice,” laughs Marcel, after which he assures us that he doesn’t take money from anyone. “The gifts for the children are new and come from sponsors, or we buy them ourselves. We save for that all year round.” And that while the pair itself is not very wide. Since Marcel was declared permanently incapacitated after two brain haemorrhages and a heart attack, the couple have had to live on unemployment benefits. “We’ll make it,” says Tineke, “even if the prices don’t have to rise any further.”

So there is no shortage of helpers: friends help pack, fresh pea soup and donuts are delivered at cost, face painters and a photographer contribute selflessly. “We even have a sponsor who is providing helium and biodegradable balloons for the balloon competition I’ve been wanting for a while,” beams Marcel. “The neighbors will set up tables with gifts and games in the front yard,” he continues excitedly about his plans. “Our 87-year-old neighbor has been looking forward to it for several months. We put stuffed animals and gifts for the parents at his place. There he is next to his stove. You can see him enjoying it so much, wonderful.”

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Tineke’s bow room is also full of Christmas presents. Photo: Cathalijne van Oort

Everything will be fine

Marcel and Tineke are looking forward to ‘their’ Christmas party. Still, Tineke will be happy when it’s over. “Marcel can then get back to work with his bikes and I finally have my craft room back. It is now full of gifts!” she laughs. “We probably have too much,” admits Marcel, “but we also give what’s left. Thanks to Tineke’s work at De Walvis, we got in touch with a group of Ukrainian refugees. They also have children who can use beautiful Christmas memories .”

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