Ashton College Ballito siblings raise R1.9m for charity. Putting together a list of supplies that a family of four would need, each proposed food parcel was budgeted at R400 and the ‘Ashton Families Who Care’ initiative was born.
The proverb “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” puts forward the idea that however difficult a task, you can only complete it if you start it.
This is how Ashton siblings Rouxlé and Duncan Johnstone began their journey, inspired with the idea to help families in need during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The duo raised R1.9m worth of food parcels for those most affected by the crisis. The siblings approached their parents with their idea when lockdown began and roped in extended family and friends.
Putting together a list of supplies that a family of four would need, each proposed food parcel was budgeted at R400 and the ‘Ashton Families Who Care’ initiative was born. “Within a very short space of time, donations poured in from a number of big businesses,” said Rouxlé.
Realising that during lockdown it would be an impossible task to reach those needy families, the siblings approached Ashton for help and the school reached out to KwaDukuza municipality. KDM’s Community Safety executive director Cecil Viramuthu granted permits to 22 volunteers to do the work required. The KwaDukuza Disaster Management team was tasked with distributing the food parcels to families as identified by Ashton Families Who Care.
“We are very grateful to be receiving this assistance from the Ashton Families Who Care, and many others who rose up to help, as there are so many families in need,” said Viramuthu.
Flyers on personal hygiene in both English and Zulu were printed at Ashton and included with each pack. Ashton International College CEO, Andre Buys said: “We are extremely honoured to be a part of this initiative by the students who have very big hearts, and assist where we can,” and clarified that all the money raised had come from the community.
The first 3 700 packs were put together with the help volunteers and under the watchful eye of the iLembe environmental health services assistant director, Linda Weaver, who offered advice and inspected the supplies and the premises. Collection boxes were set up at Lifestyle SuperSpar where a donation of any of list of items displayed at the entrance can be dropped off. Donations can also be placed in collection boxes set up at Tiffany’s Spar and at Pick ‘n Pay. The contents are moved every day to the packing and distribution centre.
Since the start of the food drive a number of NGOs have teamed up with Ashton Families Who Care, including NPO His Way Outreach, Jacqui Muir and her team, Michelle Larkens and Women on a Mission, assisted by Patrick Bilai, Barry Chapman and Peter Jacobs.
Ashton marketing manager, Jeannie Habig said: “They have done a tremendous job and kept records of areas they have visited. We salute these people. The initial funds raised by these students were from businesses even beyond KZN borders. Grace Family Church volunteers have also played an exceptional role the past ten days as Ashton students have returned to homeschooling.”
Rouxlè and Duncan thanked every person who had contributed. “This has been a humbling, heart-warming experience,” said the brother-sister dynamo who are testament to the old adage: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has.”
Donations can be made to the Ashton Families Who Care, First National Bank, Branch 250 122, Account number 628 491 64562.
Credit North Coast Courier