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Winter Warmer Drive 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa

Annually BAPS Charities, under the theme of “Spirit of Service”, run a Winter Warmer drive to support the underprivileged during the strenuous winter period. Support is provided through donations of clothes, blankets, and non-perishable foods. This year two beneficiaries were selected for donations within Johannesburg; Fordsburg Primary School and Barcelona Informal Settlement. Distribution of food parcels and blankets were made to both beneficiaries on the 13th of June 2015 by BAPS Charities volunteers from Johannesburg. Used clothing was also collected in the preceding months and donated to local organisations for distribution through their various centres.

Fordsburg Primary, a public school, serves to educate young children from all parts of Greater Johannesburg, many of whom come from challenged and underprivileged circumstances. The 200 children identified as beneficiaries are those that currently receive support, on an ever-decreasing and constrained school budget, with daily meals and school uniforms in order to enable learners to function on a daily basis. The volunteer team set up a distribution point within the school from 9 am to 1 pm. Parents arrived, within this period, to collect the parcels which had been prepared. During the distribution volunteers were touched to hear the stories of the some of the families. One of the governing body members of the school was particularly inspiring. She was a foster mother to 4 children who attended the school. She was particularly thankful to BAPS Charities for holding the distribution.  The food parcels contained fresh fruit, candles, matches, nutritious pap fortified with additional protein, canned food, rice, soup mix, sugar, salt and tea bags.

The Barcelona informal settlement is a community that lack basic amenities such as running water, plumbing and electricity. BAPS Charities have been supporting this community for years. On a monthly basis bulk food items and medical services are provided, and once a year additional support is provided through our Winter Warmer Drive. This year volunteers made the distributions from a clinic which resides within the centre of the settlement. Children along with their mothers came in large numbers to receive the parcels. Families visibly displayed their joy when receiving their food parcels, and some went out of their way to hug volunteers as an expression of their gratitude. After the distribution the community sang a jubilant “Thank you” song in their local language. A total of 400 families received food packs on the day. After the distribution, volunteers described the day as a heart-warming experience.