Lotto KZN lives on in its charitable work

Her small frame sits in the chair, her feet barely touching the footrest. But for Olga Mkhize, the best present she has ever received is the wheelchair she is sitting in.

Olga, a grade 10 pupil at Savannah Park in Mariannhill, has been wheelchair-bound for as long as she can remember.

Her old chair was rickety and broken, but as it was the only "legs" she had, she managed.

This week, thanks to Wheelchairs KZN and the now defunct KZN Lotto, Olga is just one of the recipients of 213 wheelchairs donated by the organisation, bringing to more than 1 200 the number of chairs donated to date.

Each chair costs between R5 500 and R14 000 and is fitted specifically for the recipient.

This has been made possible by the creation of Community Care Centres - born out of the closure of the KZN Lotto.

Operation Jumpstart was formed in May 1992 to raise money to finance projects that would help uplift disadvantaged communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

The money came from KZN Lotto, with a total of R896-million raised during Lotto's lifespan, R448-million of which was paid out in prizes, and R345-million paid out to charities.

When the National Lottery was launched in March 2000, KZN Lotto was forced to close. With R152-million in capital, KZN Lotto did not want to just distribute the money to charities and close shop totally and Community Care Centres was established.

Chair Mike Strong said the capital was put into an account and the interest of that had been used to continue charitable work.

"We cannot do anything other than capital projects. We cannot provide running costs for charities and institutions," said Strong.

Community Care Centres deal with applications for funding, assess needs and visit project sites. A number of projects including helping abused women, children and the aged, have continued.

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