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Jess Macdonald

Jess Macdonald is crowdfunding

104%
£4,704
raised of £4,500 target by 122 supporters

Weʼre raising £4,500 to support Herbie's Helping Hand – Providing for Those in Need

East London, South Africa

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Story

In the wake of the mass unemployment, poverty and hunger caused by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, we are setting up a project to provide sandwiches, coffee and knitwear to some of the many needy in our local area of East London, South Africa. The knitwear will be crafted by hand by two Xhosa ladies, therefore helping them to maintain an income and feed their families in this time of crisis. The goods will be delivered by my daughter and I using her Herbie VW Beetle pedal car – for the full story, read on below.

NOTE: Thanks to the incredible generosity of sponsors from all over the world, we have tripled our original target in just over a week. Please scroll to the bottom of the page for our latest project update, and to find out what we plan to do with the additional funds.

The Effects of Lockdown

On March 27th, East London entered full lockdown along with the rest of the country in an effort to reduce the effects of COVID-19. Suddenly my husband and I were home from work, and our two-year-old daughter, Maia, was no longer going to daycare. Like everyone else, we worried about our reduced income and what it would mean for us. Then we started thinking how terrifying the situation must be for all the people in South Africa who depend on casual wages for survival.

These are the domestic workers and the gardeners, the painters and the bricklayers, the restaurant servers and bartenders – people who are paid minimum wage and have no savings, people who don't benefit from unemployment schemes, and for whom no work means no pay. People who lost their ability to earn a living overnight – if we were worried, how scared must those who were already living on the breadline be by the new status quo?

We thought about what we could do to help, and decided to start making sandwiches for the people who are forced by poverty to look for food in the garbage left outside our homes for weekly collection. Since lockdown Level 4, when we were allowed out of our houses for a few hours each morning, we have fed the hungry in our area every Monday. When restrictions lifted slightly and my husband was able to return to work, Maia and I carried on, but I found it difficult to juggle the sandwiches and an adventurous toddler. 

The Herbie Delivery Team

So, we started using the Herbie pedal car my husband built when Maia was born as a delivery truck. Maia sits in the front, waving at everyone we pass, and helping me to hand out sandwiches from the box in the back seat. We recently bought a flask and now we're able to serve coffee as well. Our one-eyed rescue dog, Dobby, also comes along for the ride. We are a bit of a motley crew, but we manage to bring a smile to the faces of the hungry people we serve along the way.

Mondays have become my favourite day of the week. I love interacting with the garbage pickers, the majority of whom are older gentlemen. Most of them can't speak English and my Xhosa is non-existent except for a few useful words like "hello", "how are you?", "hungry?" and "go well". But they are endlessly grateful for such a small gesture and by now, many of them are repeat customers who greet us enthusiastically when we come around the corner.

Another Way to Help

Lately I haven't been able to stop thinking about the men (and a few women) that we meet on our Monday rounds. I kept asking myself whether we could do more to help. Every week there are more hungry and desperate people on the streets as coronavirus and the lockdown restrictions continue to bring our beloved country to its knees. Then I saw a post on Facebook advertising woollen garments knitted by a Xhosa lady named Indi to raise funds after she lost her job as a domestic worker due to coronavirus.

I was so impressed by her innovation and determination (in her own words) to do something positive to make money rather than resorting to begging. I began to think that maybe there was a way to support Indi, and people like her, while also doing something more for the Monday sandwich crowd. What if I could find a way to pay Indi to make gloves for the jobless and homeless hungry, so that they could have some relief from the biting night-time cold we are currently experiencing as part of our southern hemisphere winter?

How Will it Work?

So, here’s the plan. I have sourced and priced wool, which I will provide to Indi in addition to a wage that is slightly more than what she would earn as a domestic worker for the same number of working hours. She will produce her beautiful gloves, which Maia, Dobby and I will then give out with our sandwiches and coffee every Monday. I also found a second knitter, Priscilla, who specialises in beanies. With Indi and Priscilla's skills, we should be able to make those cold nights a lot warmer for our beneficiaries.

At first, our aim is for each lady to knit 10 beanies or pairs of gloves per week, for a total of 100 beanie and glove combos over 10 weeks. The cost of this, in addition to the ingredients needed to make 100 sandwiches, is R15,000 (equivalent to £700 or $900). That means that if you donate just R150 (£7 or $9), you can sponsor the cost of a beanie, a pair of gloves, a sandwich and a cup of coffee for one person.

Project Update (August 12th)

We initially set a target of £700/R15,000 to fund this project for 10 weeks. Thanks to the incredible generosity of sponsors from all over the world, we almost tripled this target within the first week. We began thinking of ways that we could use the extra money to help our local community for longer and in more far-reaching ways, and this is what we came up with:

- We will be able to keep our original knitters employed for longer, thereby giving them a better chance of surviving the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19.

- We have taken on a third knitter, Erica, which means that Herbie’s Helping Hand is now bringing money to families in three of East London’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

- We have bought extra flasks, so that we can cover a wider area and serve coffee to more people on our Monday rounds.

- In addition to serving sandwiches and coffee, we will now be preparing helpings of samp and beans (a local Xhosa delicacy) for each of the garbage pickers. This hot dish will hopefully provide both energy and comfort, and will be enriched with spinach and bacon for extra nutritional value.

- We will be providing wool for a knitting therapy group at one of our local frail care homes. Under lockdown regulations, residents at these homes are not able to receive visitors. It is our hope that knitting will help to ease the loneliness of being separated from one’s family at such a dependent stage of life.

- The ladies at the frail care home will be knitting beanies and bed socks specifically for residents of the CHOC home in East London. CHOC, or the Childhood Cancer Foundation, provides accommodation for child cancer victims and their families who live in rural areas and would otherwise have to travel in daily via public transport to receive treatment at the hospital. Public transport is expensive for these families at the best of times, but the crowded conditions on taxis make them especially dangerous for at-risk patients during the coronavirus crisis. The work CHOC do is therefore invaluable. We hope that our knitted goods will make the long hours spent waiting at hospital easier for both the children and their caregivers.

With all of these new plans in motion (and more to come - I'd love to employ a fourth knitter to provide garments for our local orphanage if funds allow), we have decided to increase our target to £3,000/R68,500. Whatever we raise will be hugely appreciated, not only by me, Indi, Priscilla, Erica and the rest of the Herbie delivery team; but by the amazingly resilient men and women for whom we’re trying to make the smallest of differences. Thank you so much for reading!

NOTE: I always wear a mask during our delivery round, and we sanitise diligently in between giving out each sandwich in order to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus infection. We try to avoid physical contact at all times.

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Updates

7

  • Jess Macdonald1 year ago
    Jess Macdonald

    Jess Macdonald

    1 year ago

    It's been a while since I posted an update, but HHH has been growing from strength to strength. For nearly nine months we've been feeding the unemployed in our local area and supplying knitwear to those in need. We have also been using funds for a few special projects, including sponsoring a school uniform for a little boy from a low-income single parent home, funding an emergency ambulance call-out and paying for the extraction of a dangerously infected tooth. Thank you for your continued support – your money is making all the difference.

    Update from the Page owner

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  • Jess Macdonald1 year ago
    Jess Macdonald

    Jess Macdonald

    1 year ago

    Our little community project keeps going from strength to strength. This week I had the honour of meeting some of the kids at the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation and was so in awe of their bravery. We will be making special knitted blankets for them in the next few weeks. We have supplied wool to a new knitting group at St. Mark's Hospital in East London, and have donated knitwear to a local orphanage for abandoned babies. And of course, we are still making our Monday rounds, feeding coffee, sandwiches and samp and beans to our regulars!

    Update from the Page owner

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  • Jess Macdonald1 year ago
    Jess Macdonald

    Jess Macdonald

    1 year ago

    Some of the brave boys and girls on the East London cancer ward wearing their new beanies and bed socks. Even though the weather will start warming up in the coming weeks, the cold is still a problem for chemotherapy patients in unheated hospitals with bare tile floors. We hope these little fighters are able to get some comfort from their new clothes.

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1 year ago

Jess Macdonald started crowdfunding

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Page last updated on: 5/6/2021 05.56

Supporters

122

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    May 6, 2021

    What a privilege to be connected Hazel Pepler

    £20.00

  • Jenny Makins

    Jenny Makins

    May 2, 2021

    Well done Jess. You make a difference. You are a star

    £20.00

  • Anna

    Anna

    Apr 30, 2021

    £10.00

  • Oli

    Oli

    Apr 29, 2021

    Good luck, Jess, with all your great work.

    £100.00

  • Deb

    Deb

    Apr 28, 2021

    Thinking of you......

    £20.00

  • Sophie Poston

    Sophie Poston

    Apr 28, 2021

    Great cause Jess x

    £20.00

  • Ros Riddell

    Ros Riddell

    Apr 28, 2021

    Poor lady - so sad 😞 to have to bury her child .

    £10.00

Jess Macdonald

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About the fundraiser
Jess Macdonald

Jess Macdonald

East London, South Africa

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