The Mandela Day events for this year centred around our theme of, “Growing Hope, Spreading Warmth.” The plan for this year was to provide warmth in the form of blankets, sustenance through hot meals and future nourishment in the form of seeds and garden tools donated to the Ga-Rankuwa community.
We began the build-up to the main events with an internal blanket drive at the beginning of winter in honour of Sam Phillip Sher, the founder of the company, and his charitable spirit who would’ve turned 95 this year. Employees could either donate spare blankets of their own or contribute toward the purchase of one or more blankets with a view to handing them out at our Mandela Day events in July and August.
Preparations began on Thursday 27 July with the chopping and slicing of all the various ingredients for a delicious UP-made soup as well as the neat packaging of blankets and Dinu serviettes, ready for dispatch the following day to the elderly of Ga-Rankuwa.
On the morning of the 28th of July, the first leg of UP’s Mandela Day events for 2023 officially began. The vehicles were loaded up and the Angels dispatched to the Moepathutse Community Learning Centre in Zone 1 to set up for the handout as well as the opening of the new community garden on the premises. Quick work was made of the distribution of hot soup and goodie bags by the many hands provided by our Universal Angels and the Northern Hope Foundation team. David Sher voiced heartfelt thanks to all the sponsors and their representatives present, as well as the community, the Northern Hope Foundation, and the UP team for stepping in to make this event happen.
The gratitude and enthusiasm of the elderly was deeply felt with many breaking into song and dancing at the occasion which is no small thing considering their advanced age and frail bodies. Their appreciation reminded us all of the profound impact of simple acts of kindness, especially for the sometimes forgotten members of society.
The second leg kicked off on Friday the 4th of August at Bachana Mokwena Primary School in Ga-Rankuwa View. Universal Paper has built a long-standing relationship with Bachana Mokwena and its principal, Mr Sentsho Harry Rapoo, also known as ‘Sir Harry’. Starting in 2010, UP has assisted with the provision of computer equipment, donated Dinu tissue product as well as held a few events of this nature at the school over the years. The most recent contribution has come in the form of a JoJo tank which will enable the school to sustain their flourishing vegetable garden, further promoting food security.
There is nothing quite like the buzz and energy of a large group of young kids at assembly and our resident UP DJ, Innocent, made it all that more enjoyable with the younger kids singing along to the latest tracks while waiting for the rest to file in. A warm welcome by Mr Rapoo and a brief freestyle rap performance by select learners started the event off followed by an inspiring speech by Jonathan Sher on the importance of keeping the legacy of Nelson Mandela alive. A message of thanks by a senior Bachana learner to UP and the various sponsors preceded the handout. Over 1300 learners were treated to hotdogs and juice on the day with many returning for seconds completing another successful and rewarding Mandela Month at UP.
This year exceeded expectations with total donations approaching R300 000. This is testament to the amazing hearts within and surrounding the UP family.
We would like to extend the greatest thanks to our generous sponsors: Sakata Seeds, Store & More, Willow Feather Farm and Little Giants Nursery School. We have established meaningful partnerships with the above organisations and are truly appreciative of their unwavering support.
We’d also like to thank Pastor Molapo, Mr Joe Motlaba at Ga-Rankuwa FM, Mr Lamola, Pinky and team at Northern Hope Foundation, the principal Mr Rapoo and staff at Bachana Mokwena Primary School and last, but not least: our own Universal Angels as we could not have done this without you.