On the 18th of July each year, people around the world gather to dedicate 67 minutes of their time towards serving and giving back to their communities on what has become widely known as Mandela Day. Observed on his birthday, these 67 minutes of service symbolise the 67 years that Madiba spent fighting for equality and human rights for all South African citizens. What are you doing to make a difference on Mandela Day? Here are some practical ways to give back and help keep Madiba’s legacy alive.
1. Spend time with the elderly
One of the most meaningful things you can do this Mandela Day is to spend valuable time with the elderly. Locate an old age home in your neighbourhood. Gather your colleagues or friends, and take along some board games, books, movies and some home baked treats for an enjoyable day filled with meaningful conversation. You’ll be amazed at the amount of fun you’ll have with this bunch – you wouldn’t want to leave!
2. Visit your local animal shelter
Most animal shelters are in dire need of help. They are often understaffed, and most depend on the generosity of individuals and private organisations to feed, house and take care of the many sick and abandoned animals that continuously stream through their doors. Help give our two- and four-legged friends a second chance in life by volunteering your time at a nearby animal shelter. You can alleviate the load by offering to feed the animals, wash their cages or simply taking them out for a walk. If a hands-on approach is not your thing, there are plenty of other ways: you can help raise funds to feed the animals or offer administrative support in finding them a safe and loving home.
3. Organise care packs for the homeless
Restore dignity amongst the poor and homeless by donating essential toiletry items. Round up some friends and family members and encourage them to sponsor items such as soap, wash cloths, toothbrushes and toothpaste to make up the relevant care packs. Make contact with a homeless shelter and arrange to drop off the care packs (some may even collect), and help give the homeless a fresh start to a new life.
4. Arrange a book drive
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, Mandela once said. Give the gift of education by donating new and used reading material, such as books, magazines and newspapers to underprivileged schools, orphanages, shelters and community libraries. The organisations are often in desperate need of books. Don’t stop there! Encourage members at your schools, religious institutions and community centres to get involved in the book drive and help empower our nation through reading.
5. Look after our planet
Earth is the only home we have. If we don’t take good care of it, it certainly won’t take care of us. Invest time in setting up an efficient recycling system at your school, community centre and local library whereby waste material such as cans, bottles, plastic and paper can be recycled. You can also volunteer to clean up your neighbourhood by picking up litter or give your community a makeover by offering to paint walls or fix broken windows. If you are gifted with green fingers, volunteer to plant some trees and plants to help preserve our environment.
6. Visit an orphanage
Spread the love where it is needed the most. Visit an orphanage to spend some quality time with abandoned babies and children. Donations of non-perishable food, toiletries, toys, but mostly your time, makes all the difference to a child in need. If you are strapped for time and aren’t able to volunteer, you can still help out by donating some necessary items, such as, toiletries, blankets, clothing and fluffy toys to help put a smile on every child’s face.
For more practical ideas on how you can make a difference this Mandela Day, visit www.mandeladay.com .