When lockdown seemed to sever us from our community my frustrations levels were sky high. Creating the big events I love doing ground to a halt and I missed my clients and my team. Eventing can only happen so far via a Zoom call. On top of this, the weather got colder and I could only imagine what people on the streets were experiencing through lack of income, food and basic necessities.
"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change." Bob Kerrey
The thought of people having to sleep rough and not having anything to eat made me restless. I’m a fixer, so I decided to focus on doing something to help. Little did I know how far the power of a little kindness would go, and what started out as a small feeding scheme fast became a nightly event for up to 70 people.
"Start right now, where you are, with what you have, and don’t stop." WE THE URBAN
I reached out to friends and industry colleagues and we decided that we would do our best to help the people in Blairgowrie who we could see were suffering. We started by making meals for 35 people which soon doubled to over 65. Meals consist of beef or chicken and veggies stewed up with samp, rice or pasta and apples and oranges were added to the food packs. Initially we were driving around to find them to hand out the parcels but then managed to get them to go to a central spot which made distribution easier, and meant that the people that were truly hungry would come to us. Where we could, we delivered blankets and clothes and shoes, so many men needing shoes to get back on their feet.
Decide. Commit. Do.
By sharing what we were doing on Facebook and Instagram we were overwhelmed by the generosity of people. Some colleagues had food left over from a shoot and delivered so we could make up meals. We took turns in cooking and distributing. My whole family got involved and friends baked muffins and delivered biscuits. People donated money for food without even telling me who it was from. Friend’s kids offered their pocket money when they saw what we were doing.
Mieke Hulme got in contact when we put out a call for hygiene packs, and she came to the party and mobilised her friends and family and she packaged 60 bags with toothpaste, soap, toothbrushes and face clothes. They were so grateful to have toiletries to clean up a bit.
Gail Solomon organised 1000 Derma Hydrate Lotion and subsequently 100 Derma soaps – thank you Adcock Ingram. There were too many for our little hood – so we shared the stash with Kelly-Ann van der Meer from One Small Act of Kindness and she distributed some to Soweto and the shelters that she is involved in – we touched 1000 people with that kindness.
It Takes a Village
The support, care and generosity from all over was truly humbling and yet, still there were some days where not everyone could get fed. The demand is so high. There are many desperate people; each with their own story of hardship but within this was beauty. People started recognising my car and their faces would light up. I got to see my son experience their gratitude as they enjoyed a hot meal made with love.
“From the heart, it has come, to the heart, it shall go.” Beethoven
As we (hopefully) move towards Level One I realise there needs to be an exit strategy and my aim is to put together a farewell package of a mobile shower, a pick-a- wardrobe initiative, a doctor and a dentist to check our homeless friends and bid them farewell. I’m hoping that we’ve made a difference to some people’s lives and that that difference is paid forward. A meaningful life is not about being rich, being popular, being highly educated or being perfect… It is about being real, being humble and being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others. I won’t stop. I won’t stop helping and making a difference! We can help our communities, and if everyone does, then everyone wins. We can help each other through this, and I won’t stop. I will continue until I have spent my very last cent and worked my fingers to the bone. I won’t stop.
To help our feeding scheme here are the details below:
Kelly McGillivray, Squad Leader
About: theSQUAD Creative Event Management
Incredible challenges are what take us to the moon and back. theSQUAD Creative Event Management in Johannesburg work to outdo themselves with bigger, more authentic, lump-in-your-throat, goose-bump-inducing, pulse-raising, smile-widening, can't-believe-that-just-happened experiences. We look forward to you joining us for the ride.
Contact: Kelly McGillivray