Bongani Malevu, a disabled teenager from Soweto, was expecting a bleak Christmas this year.
But Good Samaritans read his story in Sowetan last Tuesday and opened their hearts and wallets.
On Christmas eve the 19-year-old beamed when Tebogo Sehlako and his colleagues at City Power, Mothusi Moloko and Sol Masolo, arrived at his room in the Nancefield hostel clutching bags full of goodies.
Malevu and his brother Mlungisi Zulu got sugar, rice, mealie meal, cooking oil, potatoes, carrots, washing soap and other goodies.
"I am very happy," Malevu said. "My brother will start cooking right away. This food will take us to the new year. At least I am going to have a happy Christmas just like anybody, thanks to Sowetan."
Other Good Samaritans who phoned Sowetan to pledge their support also kept their word to the delight of hostel headman Thandazani Shange.
Shange confirmed that Malevu, who is under his care, had already received a grocery voucher worth R430 from Bernard Mhunduru.
Another reader, who did not want to be identified, bought grocery vouchers worth R2000.
"Please monitor this so it's well managed," the reader said. "If it is I will top up the vouchers in June to last until the end of the year."
Masolo said helping people such as Malevu was part of their responsibility.
"We have just completed a pre-school in Finetown," Masolo said. "We will continue being involved in similar projects because they are part of our social responsibility programme."
Zelpha Morrison, a community development worker, promised that she would help Malevu and his brother to get IDs so that they can get a disability grant and find work.
Their mother died in March last year while in the process of helping them get IDs and their father is at the home of a traditional healer where he is undergoing treatment for a mental illness.
Malevu was paralysed when he was shot on December 16 last year. He was having a good time with friends when two men opened fire on them. Five of his friends died in the unprovoked attack.