Knysna touches the Midlands

2017-06-15 14:06
Jessica Campbell (left), Tim de la Hey and Kerri Holder are surrounded by boxes of supplies headed to Knysna after locals responded to their social media plea for donations for fire victims at Aintree Lodge.

Jessica Campbell (left), Tim de la Hey and Kerri Holder are surrounded by boxes of supplies headed to Knysna after locals responded to their social media plea for donations for fire victims at Aintree Lodge. (Ian Carbutt)

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Knysna called for help and Pietermaritzburg responded.

By Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of boxes containing food, clothing, blankets and water were being transported from the city to Knysna.

The Knysna fires, which claimed the lives of seven people, including a firefighter and a four-year-old, destroyed homes and displaced more than 10 000 people. This week, officials in Knysna said they desperately needed sleeping bags, mattresses, blankets, small home appliances and toiletries.

Two friends from the Midlands were so shocked at the devastation wreaked on the area that they decided to rally everyone they knew to help those who had been affected.

Jessica Campbell and Kerri Holder turned to social media to call for help for those who were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

They used Facebook and WhatsApp and appealed to anyone who could donate to take their donations at Aintree Lodge in Pietermaritzburg.

By Wednesday, the number of donations was so overwhelming that they filled a huge tent that had been erected on the Lodge’s field.

“We were touched by the devastation in Knysna and thought we could try to do something to help them out,” said Campbell.

Holder said her father, who works for a trucking company called Primelogistix, was generous enough to donate a truck to transport the donations to Knysna.

“We posted our plea on Facebook and on WhatsApp on Thursday night asking our friends and family to donate some things. We never thought it would turn out this big,” said Holder.

The duo said the donations were mostly from the Pietermaritzburg, New Hanover, Wartburg, the “Ambers” in Howick and Hilton communities.

Campbell said they had well over 1 000 boxes of food, clothing, blankets, animal food, baby supplies, toiletries and water to send to adistribution centre in Knysna.

“We would love to thank Aintree Lodge for allowing us to use their property as a drop-off zone, the Aintree staff members who helped organise and pack the boxes, all the happy helpers and volunteers who came through to help us and all the individuals, organisations, schools and local farmers and businesses who donated,” said Campbell.

Holder said they managed to get so many people on board through social media.

“Social media is mostly perceived to carry fake or negative news but we were able to use it to help those in desperate need. It has been completely overwhelming to see the positive response from our community, we highly appreciate the contributions,” said Holder.

The duo said the project had been a lot of work but also very fun.

“We have met many amazing people we would have never met had we not done this. It opened our eyes to how complete strangers can come together to help those in need,” said Campbell.

Head of marketing at Merchiston Preparatory School, Michelle Stahlhut, said she was approached by Campbell and Holder about getting the school to help in the donation drive.

“We have made numerous trips to off-load our bakkies filled with donations from our Merchiston community, including pupils, staff members, retired staff and companies that some parents work for.

“It was amazing to see our school’s little community come together and donate so much,” said Stahlhut.

Shelly Cochrane from Hayfields also donated cooking pots at the lodge yesterday and applauded all those involved in collecting the donations.

“Wow, just when one starts losing faith in humanity, an outpouring of love and charity that I have never witnessed before, brings huge tears to my eyes.

“How beautiful the human race really is. Even though most people are feeling the pinch right now, they were still able to donate something. What a beautiful city we live in. Well done everybody,” said Cochrane.

The donations were loaded into a
large truck and transported to Knysna on Wednesday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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