Santa Shoebox arrives in red van to hand out gifts at Kameeldrift Early Learning Centre
Pretoria - Christmas came early for the children at Kameeldrift Early Learning Centre when they received personalised gift packs from the Santa Shoebox Project, in partnership with the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.
The voluntary initiative has brought joy to thousands of underprivileged children across the country.
The principal of the centre, Lilly Ledwaba, said the children could not afford basic necessities. Having shoeboxes with treats was a dream come true for them and their parents.
“We rely heavily on donations to keep this centre running. If it wasn’t for the generosity of institutions, government departments and organisations like the Santa Shoebox, we would have nothing,” she said.
Santa Shoebox project regional manager Margie Kostelac said this year they had managed to reach their goal of donating to 1 million children since they started in 2006. “When we started in Cape Town that year we delivered to about 2 000 children.
“From there we have kept growing. And to have reached this far is truly special to us; we would not have done it without the donors.”
Donors, she said, could register for a drop-off in their area, which took place on specific dates in October and November. They could also create shoeboxes for children in and around their community.
The required contents, chosen with the underprivileged child in mind, include a toothbrush and toothpaste, facecloth, soap, school supplies, an outfit of clothing, sweets and a toy.
The gifts are delivered in a bright red Ford Transit, instantly “related” to Santa.
Kostelac described the event as the most phenomenal feeling in the world, saying when the children saw the red vehicle from as far as 500m away, they started running towards it while singing and dancing.
Ford general manager of communications Minesh Bhagaloo said due to the devastating toll that Covid-19 had had on the country’s economy, such treats were things many took for granted.
“Helping Santa Shoebox to deliver the millionth shoebox is a truly rewarding and humbling experience and lives up to our brand values of going further and helping others,” he said.