More than 200 learners could start the current academic year with brand new school shoes thanks to a school-shoe drive by a Woodstock businessman.
Naeem Hussain, the owner of The GrillFather Woodstock, says he started the initiative a few years ago to alleviate the financial burden for parents struggling to buy school shoes.
He says this year, however, he only had three pairs to distribute.
Hussain says: “On Monday 16 January, I posted on social media that I have shoes to give away and my inbox was flooded by people who needed them, but I only had the three pairs.
“So, the following day (Tuesday) I made another post asking people to donate. People came forward and donated and before I knew it, I was able to buy about 68 pairs. On Wednesday I was able to purchase another 142 shoes, so we had more than 200 pairs of shoes”.
Hussain expressed gratitude to generous donors who ensured that he received additional shoes to assist dozens of learners.
He says each child should feel a sense of pride when they are in their uniform.
“I am a parent and I know how much pride kids have in shoes. And I know that there are a lot of people that are struggling financially. Loadshedding has not been easy on people’s businesses; before this we had Covid, so whatever we can do to help, we should do.”
He explains that they purchased shoes for girls and boys.
“I would like to thank Junaid Omar from Spar in Strandfontein. The store allowed me to purchase the shoes at a discounted price. And I am so grateful to them.”
Omar, an Operations Manager for Spar Mookrey Group, says they wanted to do their bit to assist the vulnerable learners.
“When Naeem approached us we decided to get involved, so we gave the shoes at a discounted price. We often do these kinds of outreaches.”
According to Omar, the retailer further donated another 50 pairs of shoes to be distributed to identified schools in needy communities.
Hussain says: “I want to thank all my friends and everyone that have contributed towards this initiative. I want to thank GrillFather Mitchell’s Plain too, for allowing me to have their store as a collection point.”