Pupils receive precious gift of brand-new shoes

Wendy Twala, Woolworths Hazyview store manager, with Enough Hlabane and Langutani Khosa.

Employees from the Bushbuckridge, Hazyview and Riverside Mall Mbombela Woolworths stores visited Mhlava-Khosa Primary School in Cunningmoore, rural Bushbuckridge for a very special handover. In celebration of Mandela Day, 199 learners will start off the term in brand-new school shoes thanks to individual donations from Woolies head office employees. The school is part of the the National Education Collaboration Trust’s (NECT) Fresh Start Schools (FSS) project, and the learners were identified as being in dire need of new shoes.

As a responsible corporate citizen, Woolworths has always encouraged its employees to commemorate Mandela Day through a variety of initiatives. This year, in line with the retailer’s Corporate Social Investment programme managed by the Woolworths Trust, head office employees and various stores around the country built on the success of their innovative school shoes donation campaign which was launched on last year’s Mandela Day in partnership with NECT.

This year, NECT identified over 1 100 kids at severely under-resourced FSS schools who are in need of new shoes. “It’s hard to have a healthy sense of self-worth and a hopeful outlook on life when you walk for kilometres every day in broken or ill-fitting school shoes,” said NECT CEO, Godwin Khosa, “The Woolies employees’ new school shoes campaign makes a real difference to the way that children who are made vulnerable by poverty think and feel about themselves. It is a bright and positive Madiba Day effort that will enable them to step up and feel part of the dynamic potential of the South African youth.”

The children each decorated a paper cut-out in the shape of a shoe sole and drew what they would like to be when they grew up. The footprints were put on display at Woolies head office where employees chose to support a specific child by donating R67 or more to a new pair of school shoes, with Woolworths covering the balance. Store employees completed their collaboration with head office by delivering the brand-new pairs of high-quality school shoes to the children during the first week of the new term.

“This is a highly relevant celebration of Mandela Day that has really touched the hearts and minds of Woolies. employees,” says Zinzi Mgolodela, the head of transformation at Woolworths. “Preserving the dignity of the vulnerable was something Madiba felt strongly about and talked about often. There are millions of South African schoolchildren who go to school without proper shoes and this lack tends to have long-term impacts on the self-worth of each one of them.”

Education has been a key focus of the Woolworths Trust for almost two decades. Through its partnership with NECT, as well as the MySchool, EduPlant and Woolworths Making the Difference educational programmes, Woolworths has been helping schools to improve teaching and learning, school environments and school management. To date, it has given back over R400 million to more than 8 000 schools through the MySchool fund-raising programme, and has provided funding of R8 million rand in its ongoing partnership with NECT.

Stefan de Villiers

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