Deb Zelezniak, CEO of the Santa Shoebox Project
According to Deb Zelezniak, CEO at the Santa Shoebox Project (SSB), “This imbalance is evident even within the Santa Shoebox database.”
Of the organisation’s 104,000 registered supporters, fewer than 1,500 - or 1% - are men. “In light of these findings, SSB, on behalf of the country’s non-profit organisations (NPOs), would like to thank the women of South Africa for their continued support this Women’s Month.”
Ubuntu remains active in the face of difficulties
Zelezniak says that women in the country are facing enormous challenges with the rising cost of living due to the higher petrol price and skyrocketing inflation putting further pressure on their already constrained finances.
“In fact, a recent study has revealed that they feel more stressed about their financial situation than men. Yet, in spite of this, they still choose to give, particularly to charities that focus on children from vulnerable communities and support early childhood development.”
“The desire among women to uplift the disadvantaged is amplified when children are involved, being not only those who are most vulnerable but also those with the most potential, which makes the act of giving an investment in the future,” explains Zelezniak.
“Through donations of time and money, women are taking it upon their shoulders to ensure the protection, the nurturing and the education of children. And this has become cyclical, with former beneficiary children returning to assist the next generation as donors, volunteers, and people of influence.”
Sharing the love
She notes that this spirit of ubuntu is something that has endured even in the face of the pandemic. “For the past two years, while it has been difficult for many to give to strangers when they have been battling to feed their own families, South Africans have remained a giving nation. This is evidenced by the country’s ranking among the world’s most generous nations rising from 45 to 21. In line with this, people have continued to give what they can.”
From this idea of doing what you can with what you have, SSB developed its theme for 2022, 'Share the love'. This year, donors are encouraged to duplicate an item in their box which will enable the beneficiary child to gift that item to a loved one of their own.
“This not only empowers the child to be able to give, but also teaches them the joy of giving. After all, doing good feels good and it yields good results.”
Santa Shoebox Project team
More help is needed in 2022 and beyond
“Help is needed now more than ever from all South Africans as record-level inflation is driving up the costs of basic necessities which is having a disproportionate impact on the country’s poor and, particularly, their children,” shares Zelezniak.
To this end, 12,000 virtual Santa Shoeboxes are being made available year-round for distribution to underprivileged children living in remote areas of South Africa. Due to the lack of donors in rural areas, these children would otherwise not receive a Santa Shoebox and quite possibly no end-of-year gift at all. These boxes contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, facecloth, school supplies, toys, sweets and a PEP voucher redeemable for clothing, as well as books and other age-appropriate extra items.
Additionally, pledges to Santa Shoebox open on 1 September, while Team Pledges of more than 20 shoeboxes launched on 1 August.
Call for volunteers
Volunteers are sought to help pack virtual Santa Shoeboxes over the next two months, as well as to receive and distribute traditional Santa Shoeboxes in October and November.
“South African women are survivors and thrivers. Power rests with the country’s women and we have witnessed first-hand over the past 16 years that the best way to mobilise this is within the charity sector. Many NPOs would not have been able to achieve what they have without their support, and this includes the Santa Shoebox Project,” concludes Zelezniak.
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