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Winter Warmer 2014 – Johannesburg, South Africa

Every winter, BAPS Charities in South Africa run its annual Winter Warmer drive across all major cities in the country. The aim of the drive is to donate clothes, blankets, hot meals and non-perishable food and household items to underprivileged and impoverished communities in preparation for the winter season.

On Saturday, 31 May 2014, BAPS Charities volunteers from Mayfair, Johannesburg, donated 400 food hampers and served hot meals to approximately 400 people at the Barcelona informal settlement in Etwatwa, Daveyton. The residents of the settlement are recipients of BAPS Charities’ monthly food donation scheme where maize-meal, rice and other bulk food are provided to the settlement. The residents live in impoverished conditions and lack basic amenities to live a dignified life. They are also afflicted by various health challenges for which BAPS Charities provide weekly medical services to help treat their ailments. The hampers comprised of staple food and household items, such as rice, oil, tea, soap, candles and cereal. The hot meal was made up of rice and a hearty vegetarian curry. The people of the settlement were gracious and appreciative of our donation and thanked us by singing “God bless you” in their native language.

On Saturday, 7 June 2014, BAPS Charities volunteers completed the final winter warmer distributions from Johannesburg by donating blankets and clothing to two local beneficiaries: the Johannesburg Institute of Social Services (JISS) and Sparrow Rainbow Village. JISS is a child and family welfare institution that provides care and support to families and children in need of social services. They provide programs to assist people afflicted by the HIV/AIDS virus, awareness programs against child and women abuse and hold outreach programmes for people living in informal and impoverished circumstances. On the day, 100 blankets, clothes for men and women and 100 food hampers were donated to the families present. The care- givers of the organisation expressed their sincere gratitude and thanked all volunteers who attended the distribution.

Sparrow Rainbow Village is a hospice that provides full time residence to abused, orphaned and neglected children. They also look after children and young adults suffering with the HIV/AIDS virus. The organisation runs full time educational and skills training programs such as hand craft, jewellery making and baking. Approximately 300 people were recipients of blankets and donated clothes. The children and care-givers received our volunteers graciously and were appreciative of our donation. Through conversation with the care-givers and understanding the daily challenges that their organisation face, BAPS Charities has committed to supporting the Sparrow Rainbow Village in future projects and activities.