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Over 1,000 turn up for charity holiday dinner

The Hursti Association organises special seasonal events for the homeless, impoverished and lonely in Helsinki on an annual basis. Increasing numbers of people attend their charity Christmas dinner each year, so this year the venue for the popular event was changed to the Helsinki Fair Centre. President Sauli Niinistö joined in the December 24 celebration.

Tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistö tervehti Hurstin joulujuhlan vieraita.
President Sauli Niinistö greets guests at the charity dinner. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Veikko and Lahja Hursti’s Charitable Association is a Finnish Christian charity started in the 1960s by the renowned Finnish social activist Veikko Hursti. Its work today is led by Veikko’s son Heikki.

Over the years, their events have attracted a growing number of people, so Hursti decided to transfer the popular Christmas dinner from the Töölö Sports Hall downtown to the Helsinki Fair Centre in the Pasila district, a short five-minute train ride from the Central Railway Station.

Heikki Hursti vähävaraisten joulujuhlassa 24. joulukuuta.
Heikki Hursti at the charity dinner on December 24. Image: Ari Mölsä / Yle
“I wonder if all of our friends were able to find their way here to the Fair Centre,” said Hursti. “I’ve heard reports that some people caught unaware were spotted near the Sports Hall.”

Over one thousand celebrants were welcomed at the Helsinki Fair Centre by noon, and more people streamed in as the dinner progressed.

Heikki Hursti says he is concerned about the fate of the less fortunate in today’s Finland.

“Cuts and savings to everything. It’s heartbreaking because it ends up affecting these people the most.”

Heikki Hurstin järjestämä perinteinen joulujuhla syrjäytyneille, vähävaraisille ja kodittomille järjestettiin Messukeskuksessa Helsingissä 24. joulukuuta.
Heikki Hursti’s association provides food and clothing to families in need year round in Finland from its Helsinginkatu distribution point. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö also attended the dinner and addressed the crowd.

“This morning the sun was shining on my breakfast table. Perhaps it’s like the old proverb says: if the sun is shining on Christmas Eve, the coming year will be cheerier,” Niinistö said.

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