About Us

- by Brenda van der Merwe

For the past 16 years I've been decorating my house and garden with approximately 50 000 Christmas lights as well as other Christmas decorations. The lights are switched on from 1 December to 1 January from 19h00 to 23h00. From 6 December we also have Santa Claus for the children to talk to or to write a letter to. It was these letters that made us decide to do something about the plight of the poverty stricken in our area.

Some children ask for meat, other for school uniforms and others for a teddy bear for mommy because she never receives anything for Christmas. The first year we provided gifts and a sweets hamper to approximately 200 children from our own pockets. The project initially only targeted this area, but has grown so tremendously that it also now includes our surrounding areas as well as other locations. People are really suffering. Today we are handing out food parcels, clothing and blankets throughout the year. It doesn't matter where you live, some people just hide the suffering a little better than others! Last year we handed out approximately 11500 sweets parcels and gifts to children we also assessed 950 families in need by giving each a food parcel for the festive season and 450 senior citizens each received a food parcel as well as a small sweets hamper.

Our project is completely dependent on the public and we would not be able to help these people without your support. I may have "given birth" to the project, but the public has raised it. I have also received 5 awards in the past:

- Kolonade / Erdekruik vrou van die jaar
- ATKV - Afrikoon
- Solidariteit - Ster in die gemeenskap
- Rotary Foundation - Paul Harris Fellow
- Gauteng Provincial Government - Suksesvolle kersprojek.

Artists such as Steve Hofmeyr, Jacques de Coning, Paul Buckby, Gerrie Pretorius, Freddi Nest, Tommy Oliver, Boeboe van Vetkoekpaleis, Matt Stern from 7de Laan and many more have performed here in support of the project and to draw the attention of the public. We do not ask for any money, but we gladly accept gifts, sticky tape, wrapping paper, sweets, cold drinks and groceries. We even welcome second hand clothing, furniture, curtains, etc. to distribute amongst the less fortunate. Even second hand Christmas decorations are welcome.

There are so many people that decorate their homes with lights and this is beautiful! I always make fun by saying that I suffer from "Peter Pan syndrome" because I will always be a child at heart and that Christmas today revolves around money, but our lights are lights with a purpose. This project supplies thousands of children and families with something that they would never have during the festive season. There are so many people that depend on this project that even if it costs us money and it's a lot of hard work, planning and even "begging" to some extent, all of this is worth the while. When a parent of child approaches you to tell you how thankful they are for what you have given them today because this is all they have received during the festive season, you forget about all the preparation and "begging". Your greatest fear is always that you will hand out the last of what you have, and there will still be someone waiting with the hope and expectation of receiving something when there is nothing left to give. I thank the Lord that you, the public, have supported me thus far so that I have never had to send a child away empty handed. Our greatest problem is always the age group 9-12 girls and boys. In the past we have handed out some of the other age groups presents when we run out. We have only been able to hand out so many food parcels, because it's all that we had. Anyone is welcome to come and see the lights and to bring their children to visit Santa Claus for a chat and a photo. The more people are aware of our project, the more people may be able to help us help someone in need. This is what life is all about. People tend to ask why it isn't going well with them, but never ask what they have done to deserve it when things are going well. I believe that if life seems too much and you think that you are suffering or if you feel unhappy, take all your problems and pack it into a basket just like all people around you would to. If you were to place these baskets in a row, you would take back your own basket because you will realise that your worries is only a drop in the ocean compared to those of others.

Thank you kindly for all your prayers and support. On behalf of all these people that get a little something from this project, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Brenda van der Merwe.

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