Christ­mas shop­ping with a con­science

Do some­thing worth­while with your cash, says MELANIE PETERS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

AS THE Christ­mas shop­ping frenzy be­gins, why not buy gifts that will put a smile on the faces of loved ones and friends and also pro­vide some cheer for those who need money most this fes­tive sea­son?

Spent wisely, gift money could make a se­ri­ous dent in re­duc­ing poverty. To the dis­cern­ing shop­per, the dif­fer­ence be­tween hand­made goods and com­mer­cially pro­duced items is that the prof­its from the for­mer usu­ally go di­rectly to their cre­ators and their fam­i­lies.

On the streets of Cape Town there are many ven­dors sell­ing a range of del­i­cately beaded wire goods, and at the Blue Shed at the V&A Water­front there is an ar­ray of stalls filled with hand­made goods made by bread­win­ners, mainly women, who strug­gle to sup­port their fam­i­lies.

Street ven­dors in Camp Street, Oranjezicht and along Rhodes Drive near Kirsten­bosch have beau­ti­ful beaded wire prod­ucts rang­ing from a va­ri­ety of colour­ful flow­ers to bowls, an­i­mals and keyrings, with prices rang­ing from R40 to R400.

At the Blue Shed craft mar­ket var­i­ous traders set up their stalls to the best ad­van­tage, es­pe­cially just be­fore Christ­mas.

Shan­non Clarke, spokes­woman for the Blue Shed, said there were many stalls to choose from with cre­ative and in­no­va­tive goods.

Crafters have been de­vel­op­ing their busi­nesses with sup­port from the Small Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Depart­ment at the Water­front.

Hand­made goods are of­ten made by bread­win­ners, mainly women, who sup­port fam­i­lies

The craft and de­sign stall has a range of South African prod­ucts from around the coun­try aimed at the lo­cal mar­ket.

Crafts at the mar­ket in­clude Ja­nine Jones hand-beaded cut­lery. Jones was un­em­ployed and down and out when she joined a bead­ing work­shop. To­day she works from home in Tafel­sig, Mitchell’s Plain, and em­ploys 13 other peo­ple.

“Buy­ing these gifts makes a dif­fer­ence and cre­ates more jobs. I have just em­ployed three more peo­ple who did not have a job to help me. This will make their Christ­mas brighter too,” Jones said this week.

Fur­ni­ture maker Art at Work em­ploys women, many of whom came from the East­ern Cape and found them­selves un­em­ployed. Story telling chairs made from drift­wood, pot­tery, mir­rors and mo­saic home­ware are among the most pop­u­lar choices.

An­other project that puts smiles on the faces of chil­dren in poor com­mu­ni­ties is the Santa Shoe­box Project. The or­gan­i­sa­tion col­lects gifts in a shoe box for poor chil­dren through­out the coun­try.

It gets chil­dren from var­i­ous schools, to­gether with their par­ents, to make the gift boxes so they learn the joy of giv­ing. All boxes for this year have been dropped off but to do­nate a box next year or make a fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion, see www.san­tashoe­box.co.za.

Al­ter­na­tively, you don’t even have to leave the com­fort of your home to do some worth­while shop­ping. The web­site Gifts4Good.co.za is co­or­di­nated by Greater­Good South Africa, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that is “com­mit­ted to bring good causes and com­mit­ted givers to­gether”, over the in­ter­net.

“We could all use a lit­tle ex­tra karma at the moment,” says Greater­Good CEO Dean Hand.

“We live in an in­creas­ingly com­mer­cialised world where ev­ery cel­e­bra­tion, tra­di­tion or fes­ti­val seems to be more and more about what you get, rather than what you give. Since it’s the ‘giv­ing sea­son’ it’s a chance for us all to give as good as we get, by do­ing some­thing that re­ally mat­ters.”

He said stud­ies show that giv­ing works on the brain chem­istry that makes peo­ple happy.

Gifts4Good was an easy and se­cure way to get happy and earn a lit­tle ex­tra good karma over the fes­tive sea­son this year.

“Pow­ered by Greater­Good SA and spon­sored by the Cadiz Foun­da­tion, Gifts4Good is an on­line shop that of­fers a range of al­ter­na­tive gifts that sup­port poverty-bust­ing projects across South Africa.

“Browse and buy great fes­tive sea­son gifts in the name of your friends, fam­ily, busi­ness as­so­ci­ates and col­leagues at Gifts4Good.co.za, and then send per­son­alised cards ex­plain­ing how the gifts are help­ing to change lives in South Africa’s most needy com­mu­ni­ties.”

He said the gifts go to care­fully se­lected so­cial devel­op­ment projects in South Africa. These in­clude the Bu­lun­gula In­cu­ba­tor’s ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme in the East­ern Cape, which pro­vides sup­port for lo­cal pri­mary schools, as well as a new hatch­ery for the South­ern African Foun­da­tion for the Con­ser­va­tion of Coastal Birds, an early child­hood devel­op­ment cen­tre, a com­mu­nity li­brary, weekly af­ter-school tu­tor­ing and two school-based food gar­dens.

Choices on the web­site in­clude seeds for a school food gar­den for R50, fish to feed an or­phaned pen­guin for R100, books for a com­mu­nity li­brary for R250, a heat lamp to help hatch en­dan­gered African pen­guin eggs for R500, bat­ter­ies to power a needy child’s hear­ing aid for R100 or horse ther­apy ses­sions for a dis­abled child for R1 000.

Greater­Good SA con­ducts in­ten­sive due dili­gence on each project be­fore it is se­lected, as­sess­ing gov­er­nance, sus­tain­abil­ity and real im­pact on the ground.

This is the sixth year that Greater­Good SA has run its Gifts4Good cam­paign. Since the start in 2005, Gifts4Good has raised R2.2 mil­lion for 26 devel­op­ment projects.

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