When the Daily News and Independent Newspapers first joined the Dis-Chem Foundation in the One Million Comforts campaign last September, we were delighted at the public response: 1.6 million sanitary pads were collected. It exceeded target.
Tens months later, in the second drive that coincided with Mandela Day, 4 033 000 have been donated. South Africans truly surpassed themselves in thoughtfulness and generosity, filling drop-bins in 88 outlets countrywide.
The ask was modest, R9.95 for a pack of towels. It was the keen outreach, driven by understanding of a debilitating problem for underprivileged teens, that impressed.
Most of the donors had probably never personally encountered such deprivation. They grew up being able to cope with nature, it was affordable, never broke their stride, was never an issue.
But their strong response suggested a warming recognition that these shortages mean severe educational handicaps for girls who cannot attend school each month.
Absenteeism is a problem. For many it is an option between a loaf of bread and pads, and they miss up to a quarter of their schooling.
The donors might also have been moved on reading of the drastic measures some girls actually take to allow them to attend school, some crude and most unhygienic, even risky to their health.
This crisis for many also drew wider corporate attention this year, with generous donations from two insurance giants which boosted the collection.
Forty thousand schoolgirls will thus not have to skip classes.
What is possible next year? We have little doubt that we will again see citizens at their finest, considering others and acting.
The target next time should start at this year's achievement, in our view. Thank you to all who participated.