Every year, just before the winter school holiday begins, we try to warm the hearts and bring a message of hope to 1200 children at primary schools and early childhood development centres in and around Bonnievale. We’ve been doing this for 10 years and this year was no different.
Owner and director Wilhelm de Wet says the initiative was birthed around his dinner table while having dinner with his family. “Our family were acutely aware of how blessed we are and as a family we wanted to be a blessing to others in our community. And there was no better time to do so, than right before a cold winter school holiday”
Following that dinner table conversation, the De Wet family and the SA3 team have been donating giftbags to 13 farm schools and ECD centres in the Bonnievale area since 2009. “We started with just 50 bags to one school in 2009, but it has quickly snowballed to 1200 bags to 13 schools,” De Wet says.
Every year the giftbags are packed and prepared at the Dutch Reform Church in Bonnievale with assistance from the church and the Bonnievale High School students.
They create a “factory line”, as De Wet puts it, and collectively fill the bags with everyday essentials like toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, toilet paper, cookies, candles, matches, a facecloth, a packet of rice, two packets of soup, cooldrink, chips, sweets and toys and even a fleece buff against the cold. This year each child also received a drawstring bag, something they can re-use instead of another plastic bag.
On the day that the giftbags are handed out, a number of people from the local church join forces and try to make it special for the children. A short message is usually followed by some singing and dancing and the children love to showcase their singing talents.
“It’s amazing how the kids can still remember the Bible stories that we shared with them from the previous years we visited their schools.”
Since the project’s inception we have handed out more than 10 000 giftbags to school children in the area. It’s quite a logistical exercise and the lady behind this effort is Lidelle Rheeders from SA3. It was also her idea to plant a tree at each of the schools they visit. “Many of the schools we visited don’t have shade for the children to relax under during lunch breaks. We plan to plant a tree every year going forward,” Rheeders says.
De Wet adds that the children are highly appreciative of the gifts and always thank them vigorously. “It is the one day that these schoolchildren look out for in the year and we intend to continue sharing Gods love and impacting their little lives this way.”
- Read the Food For Mzansi article about it