The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation hosted its 6th annual Operation Winter Warm campaign this past weekend with 450 community volunteers participating.
The Foundation’s Dawood Raphalalane said that tallied together over the two-day period, registration numbers amounted to 630.
“In a massive show of support for Operation Winter Warm, volunteers flocked to the Lenasia Cricket Stadium over the weekend. They included young and old, from all backgrounds – all present with the singular purpose of lending a helping hand.
“This initiative was part of Foundation’s Youth Month programme and was organised and implemented by young people. It is probably one of the largest youth lead door-to-door campaigns in Johannesburg,” Raphalalane said.
Volunteers were welcomed by Foundation Board member and MEC for Transport in Gauteng, Ismail Vadi, who told youth present that they were following in the footsteps of anti-apartheid veteran, Ahmed Kathrada, who himself became a volunteer activist at a young age. Later in the day, the volunteers were addressed by Motlatsi Mafatshe, who plays Sechaba on Isidingo. Mafatshe motivated volunteers to not give up on their dreams, irrespective of the circumstances they find themselves in.
Volunteers will be receiving certificates for their contribution to Operation Winter Warm.
Community pitches in
Volunteers, split into groups, were deployed to various extensions in Lenasia and Lenasia South.
According to Raphalalane, “Both the door-to-door collections and steady stream of residents dropping off items at the stadium yielded hundreds of bags of donations including clothing, non-perishable food items, books, toys and blankets. There was so much collected that our sorting team was still at the venue till well into Monday morning, packaging the items!
“The Foundation is thankful for the outpouring support that it has received. Without all of the generous donations from the community and the selfless help of volunteers, Operation Winter Warm wouldn’t have been a success,” he said.
This year saw a variety of organisations pitching in to support the initiative. This included: Lenasia Rising Sun, Eastwave Radio, MC Security, Johannesburg Institute of Social Services (Jiss), Sanca Nishtara, City of Johannesburg – Region G, Lethal Forces Security, Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development, Azaadville Muslim School, Gibson Pillay Learning Academy, Tiba Services for the Blind, the Thembelihle Crises Committee, the Ask Nanima Foundation, Radio Islam, the Gandhi Walk Committee, Councillor Zarina Motala, Ward Committee Member Zahid and Stylostelecoms.
“The Foundation would like to thank the organisations and community structures who joined hands with us in ensuring the success of Operation Winter Warm. This joint work shows what can be achieved when the community unites to around a common purpose aimed at bettering the lives of the under-privileged,” said Raphalalane.
There were 25 organisations and shelters which benefited from this year’s collections. They included, St Albans Cathedral, Five to Five Madressah , City of Johannesburg’s Disaster Management Committee, Dignity Dreams, Ford Blanket Run, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), Villa of hope, Legae la Nnete , TLC children’s home, Blue Rose, Mother Teresa Church, Jabulani Khakibos Kids, Johannesburg Institute of Social Services (Jiss),Tough Love Addiction Centre, Phila Muntu Omyama Centre, Thuba Lami, Umuzi Wethemba Skills Centre, Emthonjeni Non-Profit Organisation, Tiba Services for the Blind, Serenity Home Recovery Shelter, Nkosi’s Haven, 10 Commandments Ministry Church, Azania 27,Finetown Youth Group and the Youth Folk Westbury Area.
Several of the organisation were on site on Sunday and Monday to pick up the collections, which they will distribute to the communities and constituencies that they serve.
The remaining collections will be handed over to the City of Johannesburg’s Disaster Management Committee, who will store the items and distribute it when the need arises, such as when shack fires or other disasters occur.
“While Operation Winter Warm does not eliminate poverty, it does open up discussions among young people on how they can work together in finding more sustainable ways to tackle this problem in our country. It also allows volunteers to get some insight about how a small gesture of help can go a long way in making someone’s winter more bearable,” Raphalalane said.