Public Eye (South Africa)

‘A time for giving’


The festive season is the time for giving and Pietermari­tzburg residents certainly step up when it comes to thinking about the less fortunate, say aid groups.

Public Eye spoke to several non-profit organisati­ons (NPOS) to find out just how charitable residents in the region are and what drives people to help others.

Fiona Balgobind, director of the Pietermari­tzburg Children’s Home (PCH), said that individual­s and businesses definitely donate more than usual during the festive season, which she attributes to the “holiday spirit”, which gives people more time to be charitable with their time and finances.

Yadhir Singh, a member of the Lifting Lives organisati­on and frequent donor to PCH, said that “the festive season is a time when people spend a lot of time with their children, buying them sweets and treats, and [he] thinks those same people want to give other children some joyous things too.”

Rose Day, who is a volunteer at the PMB Homeless Network, said that she has noticed an increase in donations at the homeless shelter during this month.

“During the year, people realise that they are more fortunate than others and they also learn that a person does not have to give a significan­t amount of money or other donations to be charitable,” said Day.

Caroline Holley, co-founder of Life Changer (a non-profit organisati­on which offers basic services to the homeless), believes that people are generous during this time of year as they reflect on the blessings they have received during the year, and want to help those who did not receive as much.

Nadia Velu, deputy chairperso­n of the Brookside Corridor Civic Associatio­n (BCCA), said that people do tend to be very generous during December, crediting Christmas for the rise in charitable effort. “I think that during big celebratio­ns such as Eid, Diwali and Christmas, people want to bring as many people as possible into their celebratio­ns, so they share what they can,” Velu said.

Shallaine Naidoo of Pietermari­tzburg Gracious Givers said that she has been assisting community members for the last eight years by using social media to network within the community.

“With the cost of living there are numerous items that people cannot afford. During this time of the year, we have many requests for food hampers, clothing and furniture. Together with other groups we network and see who has things that we are looking for or are willing to give away and then we get it for the people who need it. Groups like these are helpful and after Covid-19 many are unwell or now unemployed and together with these small acts we can make a difference,” said Naidoo.

It would seem that people might have differing views on the cause, but they all agree that December is the season of giving.

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