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Sought-after volunteer mission - making children´s eyes shine

Georg Haslberger drives the MAN Christmas Truck 2014 on its first tour. A very special day for him – and for the children at the kindergarten and school in Reichertsheim.

Children in front of the MAN Christmas Truck

Monday morning at the Munich plant, the place where MAN´s heavy trucks are produced. There´s no end to the drizzle in sight. The weather is not exactly Christmassy, but at least it´s cold at last. "For driving, it´s actually good that there´s no snow," says Georg Haslberger and laughs as he checks the red truck with its colorful trailer once again. "Although the truck is of course fitted with HydroDrive, so it can switch to all-wheel drive at the touch of a button," he adds. Georg Haslberger works as a development engineer at MAN Truck & Bus and is driving the MAN Christmas Truck 2014 on its first tour. "I´m pleased that it finally happened!" he says. Employees can apply to drive the Christmas Truck and suggest the destinations themselves. The only condition is that it must be a social amenity, such as a kindergarten, a school or a hospital. The job at the wheel of the Christmas Truck is one of the most sought-after volunteer missions at MAN. But it also means a lot of work for the marketing team that manages organization of the truck. It has to select drivers from all the applicants and draw up a tour schedule. But it´s fun because they know how important the tour is for both the employees and the children. Georg Haslberger has also applied several times in the past and this year, he can head for his destination - the elementary school and kindergarten in his home borough of Reichertsheim.

Georg Haslberger at the steering wheel
At the wheel of the Christmas Truck for the very first time - Georg Haslberger is driving it to a school and kindergarten in his home borough.

Even as he drives out of the plant site in Munich, staff members and other passers-by look inquisitively at the truck. "It does make you feel proud. After all, the truck is something very special," says Georg Haslberger with delight. "My colleagues even wanted me to drive past our office in the truck,." He concentrates as he steers the Christmas Truck onto the motorway. A smile repeatedly flickers across his face whenever other passers-by or drivers admire the truck.

Georg Haslberger joined MAN in 2003, immediately after obtaining his technical diploma. He already had a commercial driver´s license and still enjoys driving. "You have a much better overview from a truck than from a car." Today, he can also show his children some of his work, for they also attend the kindergarten in Reichertsheim. "My daughter Katharina has been asking all week how much longer she has to wait until the truck finally arrives," he proudly reports.

Two children gaze at their presents
Goal accomplished - MAN´s Christmas Truck makes children´s eyes shine.

Before stopping at the kindergarten, the truck first heads for the school to make sure that it arrives in good time for the break. But before that, Santa Claus has to be quickly collected. "We can´t arrive without Santa Claus," says Mr. Haslberger laughingly. The first children are already standing by the roadside, waving excitedly as the Christmas Truck turns the corner and drives towards the school. By the time the truck stops, the children can hardly be kept back. Some shout, "Look at the truck, how big it is!" or "I´d like to drive that truck!" The children jump around excitedly in the cold and each of them is given a small present - a plush lion with gingerbread. "I´ve been good, I´ve got something from Santa Claus," one boy proudly announces, while a girl tells her teacher, "You can go up and get a lion too." No problem, the Christmas Truck has brought something for the older children as well. "Our neighbor´s little boy could hardly wait for the truck to come," says one of the local residents who has come along, also curious to take a look. "I really have to see this, of course," says Franz Haslinger. He also works for MAN, his daughter being in the third class at the elementary school. "It´s great that a colleague has managed to bring the truck to our town. We´ve been waiting for this for a long time," he says with delight.

Now it has to move on – the children at the kindergarten are meanwhile getting impatient. When the Christmas Truck arrives, they give it an unusual reception. They line up to sing for Georg Haslberger and Santa Claus, having re-texted a song to meet the occasion. "How many times still to sleep, I ask softly and anxiously. It´s taking so lo lo lo, it´s taking so long. Clearly ring the Christmas bells throughout the house, hurrah, waiting´s at an end, the Christmas Truck is here." While they sing, the children marvel at the impressive vehicle. When Santa Claus begins to hand out the presents, lots of them are still rather shy. However, after a short time, it´s as if their reservation has been blown away. The children even want to climb into the cab. "This is going to take some time before all of them have been inside," says Georg Haslberger, laughing. But he doesn´t mind, he´s happy to take the time. He proudly carries his two children in his arms to show the truck to them and all the others. "I´ve actually managed to make children´s eyes shine," he says with a wink.

The first tour for the MAN Christmas Truck 2014:

Georg Haslberger opens the MAN Christmas Truck

Last check

8 o´clock in the morning - Georg Haslberger climbs into the Christmas Truck at MAN´s Munich plant. After a quick check, he sets off on his drive to Reichertsheim, 70 kilometers away. Planning all the stops along the way calls for a great deal of organization. Three members of staff have been making certain that everything runs to schedule throughout December.

MAN Christmas Truck in front of a Christmas tree at the Munich plant

A fitting backdrop for the star

Even as it drives out of the plant, the truck creates a Christmas feeling. Georg Haslberger laughs as he drives past the large Christmas tree. "Although," he admits, "the truck and its lighting don´t really come into their own until it´s dark."

MAN Christmas Truck in Reichertsheim

There at last

The MAN Christmas Truck approaches the school in Reichertsheim.

Children show their presents to each other

Excitement during the break

From all sides, you can hear excited children calling out "And what did you get?", "I´ve been good, I´ve got something," and "Look at the truck", as they collect their little presents.

Plush lion with gingerbread  figure

Something sweet and something to play with

The Christmas Truck is loaded with MAN plush lions and gingerbread figures.

Children gathering around the MAN Christmas Truck

Hustle and bustle in front of the huge truck

Even the "smaller" children at the Reichertsheim kindergarten want to take a really close look at the Christmas Truck.

St. Nicholas gives a present to a child

A big treat for little people

Each one is given a small parcel - and it´s even handed over by Santa Claus. Full of awe, the children collect their presents alongside the Christmas Truck.

Young boy sitting in front of  the stiring wheel

Sitting at the wheel

And finally, there´s an extra treat for the children. They are allowed to sit in the truck. We don´t know whether he will be at the wheel again at some time in the future, but at this moment it´s the greatest thing ever for this young man to be playing truck drivers.

Georg Haslberger with his two children in front of the MAN Christmas Truck

Volunteer mission successfully completed

Georg Haslberger is glad that everything went smoothly. His daughter is proud that her dad has brought the Christmas Truck to the kindergarten.

MAN Truck & Bus vocational trainees working on the MAN Christmas Truck

Christmas Truck helpers

It´s thanks to vocational trainees at the Munich plant that the Christmas Truck is so beautifully lit. They worked on it for three weeks, mounting the strip lights, installing generators and decorating the MAN logo.

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