167 children attended the GPN Christmas Picnic on Saturday 27 November, comprising 58 children from the St Mary’s Day Care Centre, 15 children from the Lebone Centre, four children from the Child Welfare Safe Houses, eight children from the Khanya Special Care Unit, 27 orphans from the East London Children’s Home and 58 children from the Grahamstown Parents’ Network. 34 GPN families joined in the fun!
View the photo gallery here
At 10am, just over 100 underprivileged children enjoyed a screening of the new animated movie, "Alpha & Omega", courtesy of Johnny Kluivers of Roxbury Theatres. From there the children and GPN families headed to the Fairewood Reserve outside Grahamstown for a picnic, which started at 12pm.
The guest children were given hotdogs, fruit, juice, cupcakes and candy floss, thanks to the generosity of GPN members and local businesses. Once tummies were full and little ones were sugared-up, Josh Paton and his team of six Hobbiton instructors arranged activities for all.
Half the group were taken on a game walk and were treated to amazing game-viewing, while the other half played games, which ensured fun and interaction between all the children. The two groups then swapped activities.
For those who didn’t feel up to participating, there were two jumping castles and there was lots of space to play. At 2pm we were a little concerned as to whether Father Christmas’s helicopter would be able to make the journey from the airfield to Fairewood Reserve, as the sky was growing darker and storm clouds were gathering.
However, just in time, the sun re-appeared and the children heard the sound of the helicopter in the distance. I was overcome with emotion as the children dashed to watch the helicopter land and saw Father Christmas emerge with a big sack of prezzies.
Father Christmas was fantastic. He was gentle and kind and made each child feel important. He took time to "ho ho ho" to the bigger children and gently interacted with the very special children from the Khanya Special Needs Unit.
Each child received a gift from Father Christmas and the children from St Mary’s, Lebone Centre, Child Welfare, Khanya Unit and EL Children’s Home also received either a basketball or a soccer ball, courtesy of very generous donors, Helene Pedersen and Jannik Hansen, of Limpopo Travel. In the words of Annelize, of the Lebone Centre, “It turned out to be an experience of a lifetime and something they will always have fond memories of.”
Check out all the photos, thanks to Michael Salzwedel and Steven Lang, at www.grocotts.co.za/gpnpicnic
I’d like to thank the following people and businesses (in the order in which things developed), without whom the GPN Christmas Picnic would not have been possible: Roger Domingo (St Mary’s Day Care Centre) Annelieze Maritz & Veronica Moodley (Lebone Centre) Woineshet Bischoff & Lulama (Child Welfare Safe Houses) Agata Runowicz (Khanya Special Care Unit) Josh Paton (East London Children’s Home) Karen Kouari (cupcakes) Liesl Heckler (cupcakes) Michelle Bradley (cupcakes) Kerry Barrow (cupcakes) Sarika Harjeven (cupcakes) Carmen Henning (cupcakes) Ilza Lang (cupcakes) Johanna Mavhungu (cupcakes) Kanthy Naidoo (cupcakes) Priscilla Boshoff (cupcakes) Louise Vincent (hotdogs) Rent-a-candle (hotdogs) Vera Adams (juice) Louise Bowker (juice) Shannon Porter (juice) Pick ‘n Pay – Jon & Ronel Campbell (juice, water, cups and ice and wrapping for 50 gifts, all delivered to Fairewood Reserve) His Majesty’s Fruit & Veg – Dudley Sparg (apples) Gobounce – Mark & Belinda van Zyl (jumping castle & candy floss) Miriam Mattison (cash) Louise Lloyd (cash) Fiona Meihuizen (cash) Pam Hare (cash) Michael Salzwedel – Grocott’s (photographs) Steven Lang – Grocott’s (photographs) Leslie Ginn (photographs) Lisa Young (transport for Safe House family and assisting them throughout the picnic) Pick ‘n Pay (transport for Khanya Special Needs Unit children) Dwyer family (transport for Khanya Special Needs Unit children) Sally Soule (helicopter) Graeme Germond (Father Christmas) Helene Pedersen & Jannik Hansen – Limpopo Travel, the Danish Dairy Association and Agility Logistics from Denmark (basketballs, soccer balls & soccer kit) Campbell Wescott – Albany Sports (compressor to pump up the balls) Johnny Kluivers – Roxbury Theatres (movie) Josh Paton and Hobbiton instructors (activities and game walk) Len Kruiscamp (Fairewood Reserve) Chante van der Merwe – Albany Business Machines (face paints) Ilza, Milagre & Zoë Lang (face painting) Sue Southwood & Sarah O’Keeffe (face painting) Louise Vincent & Rod Amner (Father Christmas’ helpers) Annelize Maritz (Father Christmas’ helper) Cindie Maxwell (Father Christmas’ Helper) Justin Powers (everything, and more!) Interestingly….the Young family, the Barrow family, the Domingo family and the van Onselen family have attended all of the GPN Christmas Parties to date.
I know there is the danger that people can be left out when making a list like the one above, but I really wanted to thank each person individually. Apologies if you’ve been left out (please let me knowJ). In addition to this, thank you to so many people for their ongoing support – it really made the difference in the lives of a host of young people.