The Berlin entertainer Frank Zander (80) has been honored with the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st Class, for his many years of commitment to the homeless. He was "very proud," said Zander at the award ceremony in Bellevue Palace. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented him with his second cross of merit.
The singer ("Here comes Kurt") had received the first award in 2002, the Cross of Merit on Ribbon. With the Cross of Merit, 1st Class, the next step was on the agenda. Since 1995, Zander has organized a Christmas party with a show program for the needy.
Zander: "You can't have more Christmas"
"There are just an awful lot of poor people, and if they touch us or say thank you - you can't have more Christmas," said the 80-year-old about his commitment. "They hug us, and sometimes that blows my mind."
When he received his first order of merit from the then Federal President Johannes Rau 20 years ago, he was still new to the industry, said the entertainer. "I didn't really know what to do with it. Today I know: it really is a credit."
For years, Zander's Christmas party for the needy had taken place in a hotel room with thousands of guests. In view of the corona pandemic, he now supports food trucks and soup buses instead. Instead of roast goose as before in the Hotel Estrel, there should be game goulash with dumplings and cranberries, as well as useful donations such as sleeping bags.
Honored on International Volunteer Day
At the ceremony on International Volunteer Day, Steinmeier honored a total of 15 people under the motto "Living humanity: creating ways out of poverty". Many of them supported homeless people.
The honorees focus on people who are often forgotten or suppressed, people who are mostly in need through no fault of their own, said the Federal President. "If even in our prosperous country many children are still threatened by poverty, then we shouldn't be indifferent, a society shouldn't be indifferent." The volunteers would have "improved the lives of many people, made them warmer".