Former Springbok captain Joost van der Westhuizen sent 89 underprivileged children into a toy store last week and told them to “choose whatever you want.”
A toy store in Little Falls, west of Johannesburg, had to close its doors for three hours so that Van der Westhuizen and the kids could make their purchases in private.
There were tears, joy and disbelief as the children ran through the shop’s isles filling up their baskets.
Van der Westhuizen originally told the children they could choose toys to the value of R300 each, but when he saw how much fun the kids were having he pushed the amount up to R500.
One special little boy who couldn’t believe it when Van der Westhuizen told him he was allowed to take the toys home made the former Springbok break down in tears. He put the child down, ran outside and wiped away his tears.
Inside the shop, employees stood by and helped the kids fill their baskets.
The kids came from the St Lawrence Children’s Home in Florida, west of Johannesburg, two squatter camps in Roodepoort and a poor community in Delarey, also west of Johannesburg.
Brent Petersen, a friend who helped with the shopping, said it was a warm-hearted gesture.
“When he heard that five kids from the children’s home couldn’t make it, he bought them a TV game machine to the value of R10 000.
“In addition, he had to take R40?000 from his own pocket for the toys.”
A seven-year-old boy from the children’s home grabbed a bike minutes after he ran into the shop and refused to let go of it until Van der Westhuizen paid for it.
An eight-year-old girl from a squatter camp chose stickers worth R500 for her sticker book at home.
The older children mostly chose stationery and books.