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Christmas wishes come true, thanks to the kindness of strangers

Gill Gifford Senior journalist
'Nurse Victoria' from the Fourways SANBS blood bank with her appeal to donors.
'Nurse Victoria' from the Fourways SANBS blood bank with her appeal to donors.
Image: Supplied

As Christmas fast approaches, dozens of people have big reasons to smile thanks to the kindness and co-ordination efforts of a Johannesburg coffee shop.

A teenage boy who asked for a tank of petrol for his granny to come and visit him in Pretoria; resources and a marketing boost for a 13-year-old girl to start an online thrifting business; meal vouchers, gifts for his three children and a job for a man who has battled his way through the year; a trolley full of cat food and supplies for Fab Ferals; and donations of blood for a Fourways blood bank that was 30% down in supplies.

These are some of the heartwarming stories made possible by DC Coffee Co in Fourways, a small cafe that has become a community hub and staunch ambassador for coffee, kindness and community-mindedness.

Owners Neil and Samantha Golding have been overwhelmed by the response they received to their two-week Christmas wishlist wall.

We often want to help people at this time of year and get caught up in the idea that you need huge funding and big campaigns, but that’s not true.
Neil Golding

They set it up spontaneously as a means to offer people a place to express their needs, a way for customers with resources to do good, and generally promote a spirit of kindness and giving.

“We saw a lot of people had more needs than actual wants and we were looking for a way to close the year and figured we would give the wish idea a try,” said Neil, adding that the response was big and immediate.

“Within two days we had people rallying around, wanting to help and get involved. We maybe made a difference for about 150 people at the end of the day. None of them has been huge, but every single one has experienced a change in their life in some way.”

The Baragwanath Hospital Clinic Committee put out a wish for new moms with nothing and received 40 bags of nappies, formula and supplies. A nurse from a nearby blood bank asked for donations and customers responded enthusiastically.

Two single moms posted requests for school bags and stationery, a woman asked for new hearing aids for her husband that they had saved up for, but lost when their car was stolen. A woman asked for a specialist doctor to help diagnose and treat a skin condition causing body deformity in a child.  

A school backpack filled with supplies is the granted wish for an 11-year-old girl from Natalie and Craig.
A school backpack filled with supplies is the granted wish for an 11-year-old girl from Natalie and Craig.
Image: Supplied

Every one of the wishes was granted in one way or another. Another recipient was dad Godwin Baloyi, who asked for clothes for his three children.

“We were able to arrange personalised gifts for Godwin’s three kids, as well as meal vouchers. Donations to help him came from as far as the Netherlands. We are also arranging some work for him as he lost his job at the beginning of lockdown. It’s a story of perseverance,” Neil said.

“One couple who both lost their jobs and have triplets, a special-needs child and one other were given five special gifts — one for each child and some vouchers to let them know people care.

“We often want to help people at this time of year and get caught up in the idea that you need huge funding and big campaigns, but that’s not true. We saw so many people jumping in and giving in whatever way they could. Some took half an hour out to donate a unit of blood, some people popped in and delivered some coffees to the local police station.

“People started realising that everyone can make a difference,” added Neil.

Dad Godwin Baloyi, who asked for clothes for his three children, was given gifts and vouchers for them and locals have managed to find him some work.
Dad Godwin Baloyi, who asked for clothes for his three children, was given gifts and vouchers for them and locals have managed to find him some work.
Image: Supplied

And while DC Coffee Co is now closed for Christmas and the Goldings are taking a well-earned break, the wishes will continue to be granted in the new year.

Organisation Beauty for Ashes will co-ordinate, with R11,000 in financial donations, the kitting out of 100 children in need of a decent start. They will receive bags, stationery and water bottles in the new year.

Volunteers have also created a drama workshop for 60 girls at two Home for Hope shelters that accommodate victims of human trafficking.

“People just started dropping off party dresses and nice things for the girls.”

And early in the new year, granny Hilary will be given R2,000 in petrol to visit her grandchildren in Pretoria, thanks to a couple of kind sponsors.

Granny Hilary will receive R2,000 in petrol to visit family in Pretoria in January thanks to her grandson's Christmas wish.
Granny Hilary will receive R2,000 in petrol to visit family in Pretoria in January thanks to her grandson's Christmas wish.
Image: Supplied

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