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The winners of the 16th VIRTUS award for philanthropy have been announced

Trag Foundation announced the winners of the VIRTUS Award for Philanthropy for the 16th year in a row, awarding companies, enterprises and individuals who performed altruistic deeds, initiated and supported philanthropic initiatives throughout the previous year and thus contributed to the development of communities in which they live and work. The awards were presented to the winners by Todd Andrews, USAID Acting Mission Director for Serbia, H.E. Sian MacLeod, British Ambassador to Serbia, Plamena Halacheva, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia and Gordana Delić, Director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy.

The Award for Corporate Philanthropy recipient is the company Vega IT Ltd. Novi Sad; for the “Code for a Cause” program, with which the company supported the development of 15 software solutions necessary for the work of non-profit organizations that took part in the program. Through the working hours of its employees, the company invested significant resources to develop applications and websites that will be useful for the work of organizations dealing with the provision of support to children and adults with health issues, education, human rights, animal and environmental protection, food donations, the fight against online harassment and the fight against poverty. These applications and websites will help organizations to directly communicate with their users, provide advice and services, respond to immediately expressed needs in their surroundings and raise funds for their work. In addition to improving the work of organizations, these software solutions will significantly improve and facilitate the lives of local community members throughout Serbia..

Generali Osiguranje Srbija a.d.o. is the winner of the Award for Long-Term Partnership between Business and Civil Sector, while the Award for Small and Medium Enterprises was presented to Bosis Ltd. Valjevo.

For four years now, in partnership with the Novak Đoković Foundation, Generali osiguranje implements the “Support, not perfection” program aimed at helping parents, guardians and foster parents of children up to six years of age in solving everyday parental challenges in towns throughout Serbia. Within the program, which is a part of a larger “The Human Safety Net” initiative, over 600 workshops were held for more than 2,300 parents, while 15 parental centres were opened throughout Serbia during the previous two years. In addition to the financial support, its employees are actively involved in the company’s philanthropic activities, donating their time and funds. In the past year alone, the “Global (Fundraising) Challenge” involved 370 volunteers who scaled 14 different peaks and cleared five public green spaces to support the family-oriented program and inspire others to donate. Employees apply to become The Human Safety Net Ambassadors annually and dedicate a year to spreading this initiative among their colleagues, clients, friends and family.

Bosis Ltd. was awarded for its commitment to supporting economically disadvantaged families and children with developmental disabilities in the Kolubara district. During the past year, in cooperation with the Red Cross of Valjevo and with the help of a large number of its employees who responded to the invitation to participate in the action “A box of kindness”, Bosis provided and donated aid packages containing clothes, food and hygiene products to economically vulnerable families of this region. The action expanded and became a regular activity that the company organizes twice a year, trying to include a larger number of families each time. Bosis additionally organized the A sweet for a friend” initiative, during which the employees’ children distributed Christmas gifts to children with developmental difficulties and children from marginalized families and spent time together in the Iskra creative workshop, during which they played and enjoyed sweets. Traditionally, this enterprise has supported the organization of numerous cultural events in Valjevo and invested over 1,500,000 dinars in all its philanthropic activities conducted in 2022.

VIRTUS Award for Individual Philanthropy went to Mikica Petronijević, an actor and independent artist from Belgrade, who gifted a countryside household he inherited to the citizens’ association Svici u mraku (Fireflies in the Dark). On the premises of the household, Mikica organized the very first Inclusive summer camp for children with disabilities and children and youth on the autism spectrum. Camp participants could engage in various workshops or diverse artistic programs under the watchful eye of the team of psychologists and special educators. Summer camp gathered more than 600 children and offered them a unique opportunity to learn, connect, attend occupational therapy sessions or participate in the various activities of the special education. Inspired by the success of the first Inclusive Summer Camp, Mikica is preparing a second one during the spring of 2023. He is currently raising funds for the adaptation of the household and its transformation into a functional day Centre for children and youth on the autism spectrum. Along with his fundraising activities, Mikica is also dedicated to constant education and awareness raising on the importance of inclusion.

Award for Young Philanthropists was presented to Đorđe Tomić, a boy scout and baseball player from Veternik, who has been doing good deeds since early childhood. During the year, Đorđe accompanies and drives his neighbours to medical exams, brings them food and collects clothes for the ones in need. He also paints houses of those neighbors who cannot afford renovations and tutors the community’s youngest members, especially in history and math. 

The winners of special awards are Slobodan Vasić, for personal contribution to the local community; Sandra Tomić, for personal contribution to poverty reduction; Magdalena Stanković, for encouraging peer philanthropy and Nikola Stojković, for individual contribution to animal protection.

Slobodan is a radio journalist from Požarevac, organizes charitable activities and helps his fellow citizens overcome hardship – collecting money for expensive medical procedures or purchasing the material for their home renovation. In 2022, Slobodan organized a series of charity football tournaments, during which 31.500 euros were raised for the medical treatment of Jasmin Milanović, a fellow resident of Požarevac. 

Sandra, an economic technician from Veternik, who has been working hard for 15 years to reduce the consequences of poverty, affecting many members of her community. Sandra’s philanthropic activities are directed towards the citizens’ association for people with disabilities, which aims to enrich their and their families’ spare time.

Magdalena and a group of young philanthropists from Žitorađa, who succeeded in raising enough funds for the medical treatment of Marija Stanković, their school friend and neighbor, in only a month, and showed her that she will always have someone to lean upon.

Nikola takes care of abandoned and neglected animals in Srbobran municipality. During the last year, thanks to Nikola’s efforts, more than 80 stray dogs were rescued and sheltered in his backyard, and over 40 found new homes and owners. 

The VIRTUS award for 2022 is realized with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.