Santa Shoebox Project 2018: Ready, Set, Gooooo!!

@santashoebox #Charity #SouthAfrica #ChristmasGiving

Think I’m crazy?? Talking about Christmas giving this early in the year?? Well, friends and loyal donors, the busy SSB worker bees have not been asleep the past few months.

Can you believe that, ever since this project started, we’ve managed to collect 762 594 boxes! This achievement would have been totally impossible if not for our donors who manage to, year after year, find the time and funds to fill shoeboxes to give to those who have none. YOU DID THIS! Despite a declining economy, despite NOT having time, YOU MANAGED!! So, thank you a thousand times over.

You may find this surprising, but registration for the 2018 project opens in April and already I have more than 40 new facilities lined up in Pretoria alone. I got my first call on New Year’s eve 2017 and the word spread like wildfire in the townships.

You will therefore understand this call for action. If you want to support our project this year, there is simply  no time like the present to start putting together those fillers. Remember the compulsory items:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Facecloth and soap
  • A toy
  • Something sweet
  • Educational supplies
  • Clothing

Be on the lookout for end-of-season sales and pounce when you see a special. Purchase in bulk and you may be surprised at how many items you have collected come pledging time.

This year, the entire schedule will be changed and you will have to keep your eyes peeled for updates on when to pledge and when to drop off your boxes.

Remember, we aim to eventually reach 1 million children across South Africa and Namibia and YOU can be part of this remarkable moment. The moment when the young ones here, on the southern most tip of Africa, can all smile in unison, because someone actually cared enough to pack a gift box for them especially.

Are you ready then? Let’s all join hands in this campaign to bring joy to the littlest angels in our country.

Daycares, orphanages, places of safety and community centres, if you want to become beneficiaries, please make sure you apply online during April.

If you want more information, feel free to visit or complete the contact form below.

Images source: Santa Shoebox Project website: Photo gallery –


Why encouraging entrepeneurship in SA youth is essential


#Education #Youth #YouthUpliftment #Entrepreneurship #BusinessEducation #SouthAfrica

South Africa’s crippling unemployment rate along with its poor standards of education are a toxic mix that continues to upend society in deeply negative ways. But one solution to these problems could be to engender a more entrepreneurial way of thinking in South Africa’s education system, specifically by including small business studies as part of the curriculum, either as a subject on its own or as part of an existing subject like technology. Here is an article that outlines these thoughts. – Gareth van Zyl” [Gaotlhobogwe: 2018]

Mr Gaotlhobowe’s article is a must read for those who wish to empower our youth. I can see how his suggestion of including entrepreneurship into an already existing subject can work wonders. It would be absolutely brilliant if our children can leave school, armed with the necessary skills to start their own business.

Over the past few years I’ve seen ways in which Business Studies, for instance,  for grade 10-12’s have been encouraging learner’s to research means of earning an income by using their God given talents. My son, for instance, is extremely gifted with anything that is remotely mechanical. Give him an old car engine to overhaul, and he’ll get it done in a week. I helped him complete an assignment in grade 10 where he had to draw up a business plan of his own. While he may never become a medical doctor, this particular assignment gave him the opportunity to ‘design’ his own business in, as he calls it, ‘hotrod creation’. With the help of his study guide, some research and loads of imagination, he managed to write up a doable business plan, include outlays for his workshop and even consider future expansion into training facilities. It showed him that he is allowed to dream big and the subject matter gave him the necessary knowledge to actually make it happen.

Some ‘born’ entrepreneurs may instinctively have the knack to identify an opportunity in the marketplace and have the natural ability to start a business and make it work. Most young people, however,  lack the skill and/or the gumption.

Working in the townships have opened my eyes to the reality AND the value of entrepreneurship. But it also highlighted the lack of knowledge and skill, which are essential to keep a business going. When you take a drive down Zoutpan Road in Soshanguve, for instance, you will see many informal shops, or ‘roadside stands’ where goods are sold. Eggs, live chickens, goats, vegetables and even crafts are sold. Some of the business people behind these little pop-up shops, if one can call it that, are not properly trained, which means that they often do not last. This is extremely sad, as the shop owners literally live off the daily sales they make. The products and livestock sold are, more often than not, their own, so when a harsh winter rolls around, diminishing livestock numbers and produce from their gardens or when it is stolen, they are stuck.

If those same shop owners had proper training and knew to start out with a proper business plan AND how to prepare for possible pitfalls, the outcome would be different. Now their failure only results in desperation, fear and hopelessness, because success has become an illusion. They are right back where they started, back in poverty, back to scrounging for food and begging at the street corner. There is no moving forward at all.

Gaotlhobogwe reports that South Africa’s youth unemployment rate stands at about 55%. This is very troubling indeed. It seems that even those who graduate from tertiary institutions struggle to find work. The downside of this is not only the fact of unemployment, it is also the fact that these youth’s will be tempted to seek an income from another, perhaps illegal, source, which would also explain the crime rate in this country.

We make the mistake of thinking that people turn to crime because they are evil. I would dare to say that many turn to a life of crime, because they have no choice. They have to make a living, put food on the table, pay bills and if criminal activity helps them do that, they will get involved with no regard of the consequences. Of course crime remains unacceptable, but perhaps we need to start treating the root of the problem, instead of finding ways to alleviate the symptoms.

7 March mandela

Nelson Mandela said that education is the most important thing, it is ‘the engine of development’. This is not just a quote, this is a fact. You will not want your child to enter the world unprepared for life. You help to teach him survival skills. Basic things like good manners, moral values, perhaps you even start to teach your child to read and write at an early age. Both parents and teachers have a responsibility here. You are the vessels that have to share your knowledge and experience with the youngsters. You must understand that, when you send them into the world, they have to be prepared for anything. And that includes the prospect of dealing with unemployment. But you have a greater responsibility, you need to teach the child that unemployment is NOT the end for them.

Teaching entrepreneurship from a young age will hone a skill that will be able to help a child become fearless. He will really feel able to become anything he wishes, he will feel ready to change the world. Even if he goes to university and, as it turns out, doesn’t get a job, he will remain hopeful and reach back to those skills taught while still in school. He will know how to take care of himself in an honest way and that hard work and perseverance will pay off. The child will understand that, yes, I can actually bake cakes for a living. People will order it if I advertise, create an online profile, etc. They will have the answer and NOT be afraid to use their own common sense. There is truth in the saying: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Why? Because you can make a living, however mediocre, by selling lemonade!!!

Like Gaotlhobogwe’s article suggests, perhaps we should consider adding a set of entrepreneurial skills to the curriculum. Combine it with a subject like ‘Technology’ or even ‘Life Sciences’,  and make it compulsory from Grades 1 to 12 and not wait until a child reaches grade 10, when he has the choice of continuing with Business Studies.

In the end youths with entrepreneurial savvy will become productive citizens, contributing to society and ensuring economic growth in the country. They will NOT end up in jail, costing other, also unemployed, citizens money they don’t have.

Remember, if it is in your power to change something for the greater good, it is also your responsibility to make sure that change actually takes place.

Do read Michael Gaotlhobogwe’s post for a more detailed view on this subject. Click here.


GAOTLHOBOGWE, Michael.  2018.  Entrepeneurship: Why it must be included in South Africa’s education curriculum. – Short link:

Image source:

Equal Education – [Nelson Mandela Quote]

Arkansas Money and Politics – [Header: Entrepreneur image]



Tops and Tags for Change

@wheelchair4love #topsandtags #charity #southafrica #recycle

Do you still remember to collect your plastic bottle tops and bread tags?? If you’ve gotten a bit lazy at doing so, the video above will remind you the difference that collecting these recyclable items can make in the lives of many disadvantaged people.

What the Sweethearts Foundation does is to collect plastic bottle tops and bread tags from the public and then drop it off at companies who recycle these items. Depending on the recycling company, the Sweethearts receive either funds to purchase a wheelchair or a custom made wheelchair itself.

♥ 450 kg Tops = 1 standard adult wheelchair

♥ 50 kg Tags = 1 standard adult wheelchair

As you can imagine it takes quite a lot of tops and/or tags to reach these target weights. That is where you come in, dear donors. Every single top or tag counts. I recently had a lady who has been collecting bread tags for years, her contribution could fit into a small plastic bag, but it was added to other tags already collected and together it made up about 5kg. I know this is still a ways from the target weight of 50kg for a wheelchair, but obviously we are on our way and, without her contribution, we would not have reached 5kg!

I have a challenge for you. Why don’t you ask your work colleagues to start collecting tops and tags? If you manage to reach the target weight, you can actually apply to have a wheelchair donated to someone of your choice!

There are more ways that you can help the Sweethearts. You can volunteer, become a collection point or donate to the cause. Click here to find out how you can help the foundation.

If you are in need of a wheelchair, you can apply here. Your name will be added to the waiting list as soon as all necessary documentation are in place.

For more information about the Sweethearts Foundation, click here to visit the website.


The Sweethearts Foundation website –

Scarf this!! Wool you join us?

Longest Scarf 1

#27kmScarf #YesWeWool @67blankets

As most of the SA knitwits know, we are attempting to create the longest scarf in the universe. Yes, you read correctly…the-longest-scarf-in-the-universe. Oh, unless some alien nation with a wool fetish managed to do this ten thousand years ago on a planet a million light years from us, but that has nothing to do with us, then, does it?

Here’s the scoop! Our leader, queen of wool, big kahuna, Carolyn Steyn, dreamt up this idea sometime in January. You can read her post on the 67 Blankets Facebook Page here. We are challenging India, who currently holds the ‘Wool Cup’ and the World Record for a scarf of some 14km in length.

Our scarf will measure 27km in length and will be displayed at the Mandela Capture Site in Howick, KZN on Sunday, 29 July 2018. To reach this goal, we will need approximately 14 000 scarves, so obviously we need all the help we can get.

You are therefore invited to join in our attempt by crocheting scarves as quickly as you can!

Here are the rules:

  1. All scarves MUST BE CROCHETED!!!
  2. Use a crochet hook size 6,5mm or smaller.
  3. Size of scarves: 20cm width and 200cm or 150cm length.

What is important to remember is NOT the fact that we will be mentioned in the Guinness World Book of Records, neither is it the fact that we will shatter India’s record and be the winners of the ‘Wool Cup’. All that is just window dressing, the icing on the cake. The MAIN FOCUS of this event is to encourage the people of South Africa to become involved in an enormous effort to show their kindness, love and compassion for the less fortunate of our country. Your scarf will be handed over to someone who needs it desperately, someone who will, under other circumstances, be left without warmth in the harsh winter. With so many scarves collected, can you imagine the impact this will have on communities across South Africa?

Remember, even if you contribute just ONE scarf, it will indeed make a difference. So, people, you are all invited to become part of something great this year. What do you say?

If you need more information, please visit the 67 Blankets website here and find your local ambassador. Get in touch and make a difference.

You can also complete the contact form below and I will get back to you ASAP.


FACEBOOK. 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day (South Africa).

YOUTUBE. Jaco Lotter.

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Support Women in Destiny Sports Event

#Charity #SouthAfrica #WomeninDestiny #Hammanskraal #Fundraising

I’ve known Onicca Hlabela from Hammanskraal for ages. She is the ‘mother of Hammanskraal’ and started out by taking in abandoned babies. Said babies often left on her doorstep in the dead of night. She had so many children to care for that she finally started three daycare centers AND the orphanage is still going strong. You may have read about her in my previous posts. She spearheads Ditebogo, God Blessings and Lerato la Mme.

Well, this year she has definitely outdone herself and founded ‘Women in Destiny’. She got together 23 churches in the Hammanskraal area and inspired them to arrange a sporting event for more than a 1000 children.

Problem is, they need sponsors URGENTLY. The event is tentatively scheduled for March 23, 2018 and will take place at the Suurman Hall.

Without outside support this event will remain an impossible dream. Remember, this is a very poor area and the daycare centers and churches barely get by, so I am reaching out to one and all….please support this event. Give these kids a day to remember.

You can contact Onicca on +27 73 180 8371.

You can also complete the contact form below and tell me what you are prepared to donate.

The sweet little ones provided some pics which I made into a short video. Please watch it and GET IN TOUCH.

Thank you SO much for your help.

Santa Shoebox Project: Decorate your box

@santashoebox #Charity #SouthAfrica #SuzelleDIY

Still wondering how to decorate your box?

Watch Suzelle’s video NOW for some creative ideas and get GOING! Pretoria drop off opens next week, Thursday, so time is short. (If you live elsewhere in South Africa, visit the website at to find your area’s drop off dates and times.)

REMEMBER your box is also part of the gift. The children tend to keep the boxes and fill them with precious keepsakes. Some of these children have nothing, so that box becomes their own, personal (and secret) treasure box. You may think it is ‘just a box’, but to them it becomes a personal item, something belonging JUST to them.

You have no idea how much your gift changes their lives. It makes them feel special, loved and worthy of another person’s attention and care. There simply are no words to describe what it means to them.

REMEMBER: one box, one life and a world of difference.

Any questions? Complete the contact form below.

Santa Shoebox Project: the magic 8


@santashoebox #Charity #SouthAfrica #Magic8

New to giving with the Santa Shoebox Project? Well, listen up, some helpful tips coming your way!

Though not the official ‘codename’, I think ‘magic 8’ will work to describe the 8 compulsory items every box should contain.

These are very basic and, if you are an old hand at Santa Shoebox-packing, you will know that you need not wait until the last minute to purchase these items. They can be added to your monthly grocery list so that you can start collecting them in January. You will also know to keep an eye out for specials throughout the year. In the end, using just your magic 8-collection, you will probably be able to fill quite a number of boxes.

Here is the list:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush (You sometimes get a set of paste and brush at Dischem at a reasonable price.
  • Soap and facecloth (Soap can be bought in bulk at Makro and you can actually get creative with that facecloth. Over the years we’ve seen ones decorated with the beneficiary child’s name and some have a beautiful little crocheted border.)
  • Sweets (Try to avoid chocolate, as it melts in the SA heat and can make a mess of your entire box. Also, no drinks and remember to pack an age appropriate sweet, like marshmallows for babies.)
  • Educational supplies (Anything from pens and pencils to mathematical sets, but remember to make it age appropriate.)
  • Toys (No guns, not even water pistols, or anything that can be used as a weapon. Also, please avoid religious items.)
  • Clothing (You need not pack an entire outfit, even socks or underwear can be counted as ‘clothing’. Make sure the size of the clothes will fit your pledged child.)

To this you can add whatever you like to fill up your box. Use your imagination and let your own kids become part of the project. Let them write Christmas notes to the child (the kids LOVE that) or have them draw a pretty picture.

Now, the boxes, next week I’ll be sharing a video to help you with ideas on how to cover the box. Suffice to say, for now, make it fun and interesting.

REMEMBER to paste your printed label on the box and do not damage the bar code. That will tell our computers exactly where the box must go, even if the name is lost!

Keep well and happy packing!

If you have questions or queries, please complete the contact form below and we will get back to you ASAP.

BY THE WAY you can print out the image above and paste it on carton. Cut it out and it becomes a little puzzle that you can add to your box!