KNYSNA NEWS - The festive season has arrived early for a group of local volunteers who are wholeheartedly preparing for the launch of the seventh annual gift drive of the Santa Shoebox Project on September 1.
With coordinator Penny Bentley at the helm, the Knysna satellite branch of the nationwide Joy of Giving Project has been hard at work since the beginning of the year to ensure that more than 350 local underprivileged children will be receiving gifts this Christmas.
This year’s theme is, Reaching the Rural Child and several orphanages, crèches and care centres in outlying areas of Knysna, Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay have been registered as beneficiaries of the 2013 project.
This heart-warming Santa Shoebox Project is an initiative of the Kidz2Kidz Trust, a registered public benefit (PBO 930031301) and non-profit organisation (NPO 102-098) with Section 18A status, that offers assistance to children in need.
Spearheaded by Kidz2Kidz founder Dee Boehner in 2006 and coordinated by Irene Pieters since 2007, this non-profit organisation has been collecting Santa Shoeboxes at Christmas time for thousands of children from distinctly vulnerable social backgrounds since it started in Cape Town in 2006 - earning these two dedicated ladies a spot as joint winners of the 2011 Glamour Women of the Year Awards in the category, Most Inspiring Women in Charity in South Africa.
The project has grown in leaps and bounds, not only extending to Namibia, but more than doubling in size every year over the past six years. Last year close to 100 000 gift boxes were collected for children at over 1 000 orphanages, crèches and care centres around the country.
The Santa Shoebox Project offers people from all walks of life the chance to participate in a valuable and personal experience. Uniquely, donor parents and their children are involved in personally choosing the name of a specific child from the selection lists on the website, and this means each participant knows the first name, age, and gender of the child. Gift boxes are filled with some necessities, such as toothpaste and toothbrush, face cloth and soap, as well as some sweets, educational supplies, a toy and an outfit of clothing, individually chosen and filled. It is this personal touch that endears the project to adults and children from all communities.
Penny Bentley and her team have appealed to locals to enter into the spirit of the festive season early this year and register as donors on-line at www.santashoebox.co.za. Selection of one or more recipients by name and age can be made on the website from September 1.
The age-appropriate, gift-wrapped Santa Shoeboxes can be dropped off at the local distribution centre – St Boniface Catholic Church, Queen St, Knysna – on October 25 and 26. For more information, contact Penny Bentley at 083 299 1042.
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