Deepavali Society raises record sum

2009-11-24 00:00

IN the midst of this year’s recession, the city’s 71-year-old Deepavali Cheer Society raised a record amount of R67 000 in just three months. This is the highest amount ever raised in the history of its existence and food hampers were provided for over 800 destitute families.

Speaking on behalf of the society and its many volunteers, secretary Vijay Lutchman said they are not just grateful for the generosity of the community, but the manner in which donations were unquestioningly handed over. “Young professionals we called on would remember that their grandpa­rents and relatives were involved in the society in the past, and felt they had to do something in their memory,” Lachman said.

He added that everyone gave; from pensioners who could barely afford to part with R50, but who insisted that they take the money, to business people who handed over R5 000 and who said if you need more come back.

Lachman said the society wan­ted to thank the Pietermarizburg community for their generosity and assure them that every cent will be accounted for. He said, once more the society was able to fulfil what has become an age-old tradition, to provide Deepavali cheer to poor families and many more who have lost their jobs in the recession.

“There has been so much negative publicity over Deepavali and fireworks, we felt it was important to highlight that the festival of light is also about goodwill. The act of giving is sacred and reflects the spirit of Deepavali,” he said.

According to Lachman, parcels are given to poor families across all Pietermaritzburg communities. The decision to be non-sectarian and non-racial was taken as far back as 1945. He added that, where possible, there is also ongoing help for struggling families.

Himathlal Soni has been the chairman of the Deepavali Cheer Society for over 20 years. He star­ted off in the organisation as a young schoolboy volunteer who accompanied his father to help pack the goods. He recalled that, in those days, items like rice, su­gar, flour, and dhall had to be weighed and they would end up covered in flour and rice husks. He is thrilled that today it is the children and grandchilren of many past members of the society, as well as those who previously benefited from the organisation, who continue to keep alive the tradition of generosity.

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