You better watch out, you better not cry... Santa's coming to Eldos

2016-12-22 07:15

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Johannesburg - Santa Claus is coming to town. Only this time, he has traded in his sleigh for a donkey and carriage. 

Donning a faux white beard and a worn out red jumper, Ferose Hartley exudes the kind of excitement that people expect from Santa himself.

“It makes me happy to see that I can play a role that impacts the children. Being Santa gives me butterflies all over my body and brings so much joy,” Hartley told News24.

The “Santa kom Eldos toe” [Santa comes to Eldos] initiative, established by NPO Dedicated Ladies, seeks to bring hope to the youth of the Eldorado Park community, an area overshadowed by a high crime and unemployment rate. 

While many children ask Santa for a doll or bicycle, Hartley said the most heartfelt request he has received from a child was to bring back his father and their home. 

“The Christmas spirit is gone in Eldos. It would be lovely if we could introduce the children to a real Santa,” a member of the organisation, Wendy Starkey said.

Starkey said they wanted to give children a feel of the Christmas celebrations and not just the visuals they see on television. 

The non profit organisation established the project in 2012. 

In 2015 they handed out 6000 party packs. 

Starkey described the event on the December 23 as emotional and humbling. 

Charlene van Buuren who plays Mrs Santa Claus said the event was going to rock Eldorado Park.

“This year we are trying to make it a little bigger and better and give out more party packs. We also want the parents to take more photos of Santa,” Van Buuren said. 

Chairperson of the organisation, Joane Starkey said the aim for this year is to hand out 10 000 party packs. 

In previous years the project was funded by the ladies from the organisation. 

“We are praying and hoping that we will have more sponsors, otherwise we will use what we have,” Joane said. 

The organisation consists of five ladies and two men. 

Although the ladies fight a lot, they try to put their differences aside and make it work. 

“As women there will always be a lot of cat fights, but we always talk it out. We try and keep the peace together for the sake of the children.”

Joane said having Santa in Eldorado Park was one of the most precious things. 

“We know what it’s like not to have, there were times when we didn’t even have Christmas clothes. So why not make the difference in lives,” she said.

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