Some children in Aberdeen were the lucky beneficiaries of the Santa Shoebox campaign last Friday.
The impeccably-behaved children sat quietly and listened to a Christmas story read by one of the leaders of the group, and then the excitement built as each child was called by name to receive a present from Santa’s “elf”, in the person of Kitty Viljoen. Assisted by Jessie Wilderman, Kitty handed out a personalised gift to each child in the group. The children had to wait until everyone had their gift before they were allowed to open them, and the eager anticipation could be seen on their faces as they clutched this precious shoebox tightly.
Something as simple as a bar of soap or a brand new toothbrush was held up in wonder, and a 14 year old girl who received a scientific calculator was almost in tears of amazement and joy. Soccer balls and toy cars were excitedly shown off by the boys, and even a small packet of sweets of their very own was something new for some of the children. Clothing was eagerly held up to show their friends –for some of the youngsters, it was the first time they had ever received brand-new clothing, chosen just for them.
Kitty interacted wonderfully with the children, and even the shyest ones were keen to show off their gifts to her.
Each child was given a cupcake, and then the precious gifts were very carefully put back into the shoeboxes to be taken home. One little boy of about six spent a long time carefully retying the original ribbon around his box, trying valiantly to replicate the beautiful bow that was there before!
One Shoebox party had already been held the previous week in Graaff-Reinet, and there will be two more at different facilities in the town in early November. With the addition of virtual shoeboxes, it is hoped that even more children may be able to be privileged to be part of the programme next year. This is the first year that rural towns have been able to receive virtual shoeboxes, a way for donors who are not near a drop-off point, or don’t have time to shop for the goods themselves, can make a donation and volunteers will pack a shoebox for a needy child.
The local donations this year were swelled by a very generous offering from the Buffelshoek Farmers Association, who gave 15 boxes –one for each member.
Kitty is the inspiration behind Santa Shoebox in the Graaff-Reinet area, having started it for the first time last year in this area. About 100 boxes were donated this year by local residents, but the bulk of the boxes for the Graaff-Reinet area were sent from Cape Town. Debbie de Klerk from Graaff-Reinet Postnet very kindly arranged transportation of the boxes from Cape Town, at no cost, through Biddulphs removal company, and Postnet handled the local delivery to the collection point.
For the protection of the children, the facilities involved cannot be named, nor are photographs of the children’s faces allowed to be published. It does not take much imagination however to picture the joy and wonder on the children’s faces!
An inspiring video, made by a school in Villiersdorp, can be seen on https://www.facebook.com/SantaShoebox/videos/312927759533311/