In South Africa, many people have everything they could wish for while others live with nothing or very little.

It might cross your mind throughout the year that you could do something to help those in need, but it is never more prevalent than throughout the festive season when giving is top of mind.

With an estimated 120 000 organisations and initiatives needing assistance, it can be tough to choose which to support. Here's a list of a few initiatives you might want to get involved with.

Change a child’s life

Every three minutes, a child somewhere in the world is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. In Africa, one in every 1000 babies is born this way.

Without reconstructive surgery, these children often have difficulty breathing, drinking, eating, speaking, or smiling. But one cleft lip surgery can take just 45 minutes, and change a child’s life forever.

Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA) has treated more than 4 000 children since their launch in 2006. But they can do much more with a little help. Many children, they say, are turned away because they simply do not have the funds. To donate go to

Wrap up the year with meaning

Some people love gift wrapping, while others think it’s a chore. Either way, consider letting someone else do all the hard work for you this festive season, when you’re exhausted after shopping for gifts.

Shoprite and Checkers will be providing every South African with the opportunity to donate to charity while getting all their gifts wrapped – whether purchased in store or not. 

Simply head to your nearest store and find the wrapping station. It’s that easy to make a difference, and your donation will go to an organisation in need near your chosen store.

Wear your cause on your sleeve.

Consider one Christmas present that helps hundreds of disadvantaged people

Relate Bracelets is a 100 percent not-for-profit social enterprise which makes and sells handmade beaded bracelets in support of more than 90 local causes, as well as the seniors and youth who make the bracelets.

Individual bracelets (from just R39 each) can be purchased from retailers including Woolworths, Sportsmans Warehouse, Clicks, Sorbet, Nando’s, CNA, Tourvest (Indaba airport stores, Out Of Africa, Made In SA), Poetry, Cape Union Mart, and more.

For stacks of 10, choose from a number of causes to support from R450 a stack – including the Amy Foundation, Shine Literacy, Ikamva Labantu, the Rotary SafeWater Project, Goodbye Malaria, and a limited-edition stack in support of the Endangered Wildlife Trust – from the Relate Bracelets website (

Gifts that enable good

Conservation organisation WWF South Africa has a variety of products to fund their work as eco-warriors, ranging from clothing to puzzles and stuffed animals.

They also recently announced a new range of eco-friendly clothing in collaboration with South African retailer Home Brewed, featuring t-shirts, bags, and hoodies made from 100 percent cotton yarn “sourced in Africa” and fabric manufactured and dyed in Cape Town. 

Where possible, prints on the garments are water based and use recycled materials. To shop, volunteer, or make a donation visit


This article was first published by IOL on 24 December 2016.