How a Sunday morning spring clean inspired single dad to become Santa to 200 children

2019-12-25 22:45
Dean van der Hulst. (Supplied)

Dean van der Hulst. (Supplied)

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All Dean van der Hulst had was an idea, a bakkie full of fuel and the drive to make a change for 200 orphaned children, who will thanks to his efforts each be receiving a gift and note form “Santa” this year.

Within two days of deciding to spread the Christmas cheer to those most in need of it, his Douglasdale flat resembled a toy store as he and his friends feverishly wrapped gifts for the little ones at Acres of Love.

The idea to reach out came to him while doing a Sunday morning clean up, he said.

“Being a single dad, the house does get quite chaotic when we hang out, with hotwheel tracks and dinosaurs and Lego and army men all over the place,” he said.

“While throwing toys into the toy box, I realized that there are so many toys my son Hunter, 3, hasn't touched since the last Christmas.”

He messaged his colleagues and asked them if they would like to help him collect everything from books to board games and outgrown clothes to DVDs for the needy.

“How can I give my son a gift from Santa, knowing that some poor soul is sitting there thinking Santa doesn't love him [because] he never got anything this year?” his message read.

“There’s so much useless junk in our homes that some orphan could really use. I'll gladly come pick up anything you would like to donate, wrap them, write a little note from Santa saying they’re a good kid; they do matter; they are loved."

Dean van der Hulst with all the gifts he collected

Dean van der Hulst with all the gifts he collected within two days. (Supplied)

His co-workers at the Thusano Group, where Van der Hulst works as a business solutions specialist, “jumped in and got on board” with cash donations.

He started to think bigger, specifically reaching out on social media.

“So instead of using Facebook for sharing memes as I do all day, every day, I copied and pasted to my timeline and to the ‘’I love Fourways’ group. I never imagined it to turn into the big project it became, I never did it for any other reason other than to have them lonely kids be reminded that they do matter.”

By the first night, he had collected about 100 gifts, which he had decided to donate to Acres of Love.

The orphanage, however, is home to 200 children.

Nowhere near the target, he reposted it in his neighbourhood Facebook group, pleading for assisted.

His post was shared and soon he was receiving everything from toys to a fairy princess bed frame.

His drive collected, among others, 280 wrapped gifts, 4 black bags of clothes, 2 motorcycles, a scooter, a car seat, a box of infant supplies, a DVD player and a 300-piece stationary kit.

Each has been wrapped and individually tagged, accompanied by a note to each child from “Santa” which will be delivered on Saturday.

Van der Hulst thanked everyone who helped him in his drive, from the friends who stayed up with him to wrap the gifts, strangers who shared their goodwill and Hunter, who left his toys all over the apartment and “inspired me to be a dad he can be proud of.”


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