The Star Late Edition

Headboy bags rags for charity

Hand me downs worth a pretty packet

- NONTOBEKO MTSHALI

IT STARTED with his father wanting to shed some extra kilos. And, as the weight fell off, the pile of unused clothes grew.

Such was the beginning of the Clothing 4 children campaign initiated by St John’s head boy Schalk Burger at the beginning of 2010.

While packing the clothes that no longer fitted, to donate to their church, the Burger family realised that if other households did the same thing, it could make a huge difference to those in need.

Schalk, who was in Grade 11 at the time, pitched the idea at his school and encouraged other pupils to donate unused clothes and shoes.

The St John’s pupils heeded the call and collected 520 large plastic bags of clothes and 290 boxes of shoes valued at R1.7 million.

Schalk’s brother, Wim, did the same at his school, Jan Celliers Primary.

By May last year, 16 schools had joined the initiative and collected R92m worth of clothing.

By September, more Gauteng schools, NGOS, churches and other organisati­ons, including the Blue Bulls Rugby Associatio­n, had come on board.

In the single biggest charity collection, more than 50 000 bags of clothing and bedding – valued at about R200m – were taken to the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

Schalk said even though he’d be continuing his studies at Stellenbos­ch University this year, the family hoped to grow the initiative and get schools from all over the country that are in a position to contribute to take part.

“We might change the whole set-up… eventually we also want to involve the retail (sector)… so when a customer gets to the till and they fill a bag with old but usable clothes, they get a discount on their purchase,” said Schalk. While promoting the initiative, focusing on his school work and extra curriculum activities such as sport and public speaking, Schalk also took part in the 62nd Intel Internatio­nal Science and Engineerin­g Fair in Los Angeles, California, in May last year.

He was one of the two pupils selected to represent SA in the competitio­n.

The device they created, an energy source powered by undergroun­d water vapour best used in mines, landed them in the top 10 of their category.

“It was amazing,” he said of the experience.

Schalk said even though companies in the US showed interest in their product, he would shelve it while he focused on his studies.

Schalk passed his exams with flying colours – nine distinctio­ns.

We might change the set-up… to involve retail

 ?? PICTURE: DUMISANI DUBE ?? TOP GEAR: St John’s 2011 headboy Schalk Burger, left, and Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskoo­l deputy headgirl Andriana Botes inspect a packet of clothing donated to the Clothing4c­hildren campaign he started.
PICTURE: DUMISANI DUBE TOP GEAR: St John’s 2011 headboy Schalk Burger, left, and Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskoo­l deputy headgirl Andriana Botes inspect a packet of clothing donated to the Clothing4c­hildren campaign he started.

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