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South Africa Shoebox Appeal

Shoebox Gifts Delivered to South Africa

Published 26th April 2024

The 2023 QM shoebox appeal for the children of South Africa, spearheaded by Sixth Formers Harriet (LVI) and Shanzah (UVI), has come to a heartwarming conclusion this month.

Thanks to the hard work of our students and the incredible efforts of Assistant Director of Sport, Jill Rastall, QM has been able to hand-deliver shoeboxes of gifts to young children in Bishop Lavis.

Mrs Rastall led the QM Sports Tour to South Africa last summer and, having been moved by the disparities in living conditions they witnessed during their trip, the girls took it upon themselves to gather donations of stationery and toys for the children of Cape Town.

Mrs Rastall, with the support of Ria & Alberts Breed from Charitas NPO, recently travelled to the Centre of Excellence in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town. Overseen by Pastor Wesley Moodley, they delivered 53 shoe box gifts to the many young children who participate at the centre. The project was fraught with unexpected delays, customs checks, and mountains of paperwork, but the boxes finally arrived on the penultimate day of Mrs Rastall's trip.

The children were delighted to receive their gifts, and Mrs Rastall was delighted to see the impact it made. In assembly this week, she told our students and staff: "Our collective contribution has truly made a difference, echoing our commitment to spreading kindness and support beyond our immediate surroundings. I cannot thank you all enough for supporting this initiative."

South Africa Shoe Box Appeal 2023/2024
South Africa Shoe Box Appeal 2023/2024

The Shoebox Story

Last year, a cohort of our students took part in the 2023 Senior Hockey & Netball Sports Tour to South Africa. As both a sports tour and an opportunity for community outreach, our girls met with children of Langa. They were moved, both by the challenges the children faced and the warm welcome they received.

"Beyond the thrill of the hockey and netball competitions, and the camaraderie of team activities, what truly moved us were the connections we formed with the people and the communities we encountered. South Africa's rich culture, vibrant spirit, and warm hospitality enveloped us from the moment we arrived." - Mrs Rastall

Upon returning home to QM, Harriet (LVI) envisioned sending Christmas gifts to South Africa as a gesture of goodwill. With the help of Deputy Head Girl (Charity) Shanzah, the girls rallied the school community in October to donate shoeboxes filled with essentials—toys, school supplies, toiletries, and more. Mrs Rastall set to work liaising with the organisation Charitas to facilitate the donation.

In Shanzah’s words, "By putting together these boxes, we hope we can bring some much-needed joy and support to those individuals facing challenging circumstances."

An Unexpected Delay

Unfortunately, the complexities of importing goods to South Africa with customs, mountains of paperwork, and slow replies for permits, meant that the Christmas target was missed.

However, Mrs Rastall was fiercely driven to see the project through to completion. She stored the shoeboxes carefully in her garage during the Christmas holiday as she awaited her permits. During that time, she had to re-check all of the 53 boxes and painstakingly document every single item inside for tariff classification codes.

By February, Mrs Rastall had spent many hours on the phone, ironing out details with the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa and the South Africa Revenue Service. The permit was finally given and conversations could take place with DHL.

Mrs Rastall arrived in Cape Town on Monday 1st April and faced a further week of problems involving customs, an unexpected ITAC permit request, and many mix-ups by DHL. By Sunday, and expecting a 'no-show' on the gifts, Mrs Rastall finally received a message that the boxes had arrived at the airport, requiring personal collection.

After a stressful week of setbacks, the boxes had arrived and the handover could take place on Monday 8th April - the very last possible day before Mrs Rastall's return home.

A Heartwarming Handover

Mrs Rastall's words perfectly summarise the day of the gift-giving:

"Witnessing the sheer joy and gratitude on the faces of those children as they received their gifts was an incredibly emotional experience for me. In fact, it moved me to tears.

Seeing their happiness and excitement touched me in a way that words cannot fully capture. It was a poignant reminder of the power of kindness and the importance of giving back to those in need.

The experience has left a mark on my heart, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it. It served as a powerful reminder of the blessings that we often take for granted and the profound impact that even the smallest acts of kindness can have on someone's life."

This story made the national SA press, and is a testament to the hard work of many different people and organisations.

To Those That Made It Happen

Those at QM

Harriet, Shanzah, and the QM community should be commended for their generous work and donations. In particular, Mrs Jill Rastall went far above and beyond to support the girls with her sustained determination.


Charitas was another crucial part of helping QM complete the initiative. The charity provides a variety of community-based programmes, which strive to support and empower. They target groups to meet their own needs by facilitating the processes associated with acquiring appropriate resources, as well as implementing and institutionalising beneficial social networks at the grassroots level.

Charitas' director and founder Ria Breed, commented: "We can only make a difference in the lives of those who need it the most by working together with our valuable partners like Queen Margaret's School for Girls and pastor Wesley Moodley. I also want to thank William Solomon - South African Operations Executive for Edwin Doran Sports Tours. His dedication to making this event happen was priceless. Thank you to Jill who became a lifelong friend during the process of getting the boxes to South Africa and her passion for helping the unprivileged kids. Experiencing her empathy and joy in handing over the boxes has been overwhelming."

Mrs Rastall commented: "Ria and Albert both invested countless hours, coordinating logistics, liaising with numerous companies, and overcoming obstacles to ensure that these shoebox donations made their destination. Their selfless determination and unwavering resolve demonstrate their genuine concern for the wellbeing of these children, embodying the essence of community and collective responsibility. We have become lifelong friends and will continue to stay in contact with one another."

The Centre of Excellence

The Bishop Lavis Centre of Excellence is a youth hub focusing on youth development and education. It is also a walk-in centre which assists the community with various social issues. Pastor Wesley Moodley, commented: “It was a blessing to have you [Jill Rastall] and Ria with us. The children were super excited and blown away by the contents of the box they received."

Edwin Doran Sports Tours

The 2023 QM Sports Tour was organised by Edwin Doran Sports Tours, and the company also assisted QM with this initiative.

"We are committed to the sustainable development of the communities in which we operate. Social upliftment initiatives are part of Edwin Doran Sports Tours' concerted effort to provide positive and inclusive experiences for our touring groups which feed into the economy of lesser-developed communities. Our community engagement activities have a lasting impact on everyone involved." - William Soloman

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