Help fill backpacks for children

Britney Kennedy, who was crowned Miss Junior Teen Western Province, and is a finalist for Miss Junior South Africa, assisted the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum to hand over the backpacks to children last year.

The Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum (JPF) will once again be donating backpacks filled with stationery to assist children whose parents cannot afford to buy it – but the organisation needs the public’s help.

The campaign, called #backtoschoolbackpack, was started two years ago, when one of the JPF members was inspired by a video circulating on social media, about a teacher asking her pupils not to bring flowers to her funeral, but to bring a backpack to be donated to a child in need.

Spokesperson for the JPF, Nadia Mayman De Grass, said her organisation investigated why so many children in Bonteheuwel were not attending school, and one of the reasons was that children did not have stationery or a uniform.

“Many will go to school for the first few days, but then drop out because of a lack of having the necessary (requirements). Our aim is simply to give a child a head-start to the new school year by supplying some of the basic essentials needed,” Ms Mayman De Grass said.

Last year the group, with the help of donations, was able to hand over 70 backpacks at six schools in the area. Ms Mayman De Grass added that the need was, however, much greater.

“Parents are already sending me messages to ask if I can put their children on the list of recipients. Various reasons are given. The main one being unemployment. The need for such an initiative is great and we hope to, at the very least, match the number of recipients reached last year. But even last year we realised that 70 is not enough. We need at least 700 to start making an impact.”

Recipients of these backpacks are nominated by principals in the area. The schools are randomly selected by the JPF, but the principals identify the children.

Ms Mayman De Grass has appealed to the community for assistance.

“Due to lack of our own resources, we rely on the goodwill of people to donate. So it is very difficult to say how many we will be able to reach, but we hope for the best.

“To assist in the campaign I thought I would capitalise on my 50th birthday, to appeal to family and friends to donate either a backpack or R50 towards a backpack,” she said.

Donations can be dropped off until Saturday January 18, at the Bonteheuwel multi-purpose centre during office hours, or at 14 Amandel Road, Bonteheuwel, after hours.

If you cannot afford to fill a backpack, stationery such as pencil crayons, pens, or colouring books, juice bottle and lunch
box, a school shirt, and even a face cloth and soap, are welcomed.

For more details, or to make a monetary donation, email jointpeaceforum@gmail.com or call 071 621 6256.