Christmas shopping with a conscience
Do something worthwhile with your cash, says MELANIE PETERS
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.