Soldiers and other servicemen and women on duty away from home will not have the pleasure of a parcel compliments of the SANDF (SA National Defence Force) Spouses Forum and the SA Army Foundation to brighten a festive season either on continental or internal deployment.
This is the first time since the project kicked off in 2001 that it has been cancelled. Last year’s delivery of parcels to South African airmen, medics and soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the UN peace support mission was postponed for three months due to fighting but, to paraphrase the US Postal Service “the parcels got through”.
Military personnel deployed internally, the majority on the border protection tasking Operation Corona, are the other major group benefitting from the largesse of sponsors rounded up by the Spouses Forum and the SA Army Foundation.
In addition to providing men and women in uniform and away from home during the festive season, the Goodwill Parcel Project also ensures their families have a special something extra come the end of December. This is usually in the form of a hamper with groceries and household goods.
The project supports, albeit in a small way, SANDF personnel and is a sign of appreciation for the work they do, often putting in long hours under arduous conditions.
The project is the brainchild of then SANDF Sergeant-Major (in the current rank structure a Master Chief Warrant Officer) “Jakes” Jacobs who in 2001 asked all senior NCO’s in the national defence force to donate R1. The money raised would bring some festive season spirit to soldiers away from home as well as to their families.
It has grown from the initial R25 000 collected to over R2 million annually with donations from the corporate sector.
Speaking ahead of the 2017 Goodwill Parcels Project launch, CSANDF General Solly Shoke said: “South African business and other generous sponsors help the defence force reach out and thank our soldiers who continue making a supreme sacrifice and to their families, who play a pivotal support role allowing our soldiers to safeguard our borders and promote peace and stability on the continent”.