Mandela Day volunteer ideas

2009-07-17 16:12

Cape Town - Torn between lazing around on Saturday or doing your 67 minutes of good deed for the new Mandela Day? Here is a list of fun activities to get you going.

- Use this nifty hospice finder to find a hospice in your area. Gather up a friend or two and go and play with sick children, comfort people struggling with illnesses or just get to know the staff and listen to their stories. Take some munchies along and you'll be everyone's best friend.

- Tag along with Johannesburg Child Welfare to visit orphaned children at the Othandweni Home in Soweto, near the Regina Mundi Church. For more information contact Carly Ritz at

- Not in Johannesburg? Click here for a list of Red Cross centres children hospitals across the country. Drop by for an hour or two and see how you can help.

- Spend an hour with an elderly person in your area, and listen to their stories of hardships and joy. Visit Age-In-Action, the community project that supports the elderly all over South Africa. Click here to find a branch.

- If you have not found an organisation to help on Mandela Day, you can still give 67 minutes of your time to benefiting your community. Organise some friends to help clean a beach near you, and keep South Africa's coasts clean.

Adrenaline rush

- Are you into any kind of adrenaline sport? Adrenalize helps disadvantaged youngsters experience extreme activities combined with life skills training programmes. Impart your love - and skills - for surfing, skating, rowing or whatever other sports gets you going, Find more information here.

If you're a Cape Town surfer, join Tim Harris on Muizenberg beach and bring along someone who doesn't know how to surf. If you're not based in Cape Town try a similar idea with a disadvantaged centre for youth in your town.

- Give the gift of life - donate blood to the South African National Blood Service. Click here to locate a clinic closest to you.

- Do something as simple as supporting a small business instead of a big chain store. Find out what business initiatives are happening in nearby townships and support their endeavours with your rands. If you're in Cape Town why not stop by at Mzoli's in Gugulethu for their infamous braaied meat and a chance to cross the cultural and class divide in the city.

Go green

- Done a lot of flying this year and worried about the environment? Take some time out on Saturday to plant a tree to offset your carbon miles. Go here for more information on keeping it green and planting trees.

- Despairing at the housing crisis in our country? Get involved with Habitat for Humanity, and have a fun day laying bricks and working with a team to build a house for someone in need. To find out when the next build is, contact a Habitat office in Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban. More details on getting involved here.

- Spend your 67 minutes baking fun cupcakes with friends or family and go and distribute it amongst street children, refugees or even just strangers in your town. Check out Food24's delicious cupcake recipes here.

- Potentially interested in a longer term opportunity that will have greater impact? Help out children in societies with very few role models and become a Big Brother or a Big sister. Contact BBBSSA for more. The organisation provides plenty of support and guidance and will help you forge an amazing relationship with someone who needs it. Visit their website here.

Street smart

- Tired of feeling guilty every time you ignore a street child? Go visit MylifE in Cape Town and meet the 24 former street children who are making a life for themselves. Take some food and pop in at 5 Maynard street, Gardens on Saturday and if you would like more information call Linzi Thomas on 021 461 0280 or visit their site to find out more about the organisation. Any food donations would be welcome.

- Apply for a MyVillage card and choose a charity with a cause close to your heart as the beneficiary. Using a MyVillage card every time you shop at Woolworth's, Pick 'n Pay, Hirsch's and many other participating stores is a simple and painless way to help raise funds for 'villages' like Red Cross, NSRI and Reach for a Dream. Apply for your card online and select your favourite beneficiary. Once you start swiping your card the charity of your choice will start receiving funds. To apply for your card, click here.

- If you're based in the Western Cape contact one of the Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD) community centres to get involved in their programmes. More information here. CWD also need co-ordinators at their various parishes to help with their buckets of love programmer. Contact Jane Gallagher at

- Been meaning to sign up as an organ donor for a while? Don't delay any longer. You can register online or call 0800 22 66 11 tollfree and receive your info pack within days. More info here.