The 2018 iteration of the Goodwill Parcel Project, an annual initiative to ensure South African soldiers deployed continentally or locally during the festive season are on the receiving end of a dose of Christmas cheer, will be launched by Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, on Friday.
Started 17 years ago by the then Sergeant-Major of the SANDF “Jakes” Jacobs (who, in today’s rank structure, would have been a Master Chief Warrant Officer) who asked all senior NCOs in the defence force to lighten their pockets by R1. The money raised would be used to bring some festive season spirit to soldiers deployed away from home bases as well as to their families.
The project is now firmly invested on the national defence calendar and has seen buy-in from a number of South Africa’s large corporates, among them AVBOB, Sanlam, Massmart, Old Mutual and Unilever, over the years. Donations are used to purchase items such as household products for military families whose breadwinner finds him or herself away from home at year-end. At the same time a worthwhile gift is bought for distribution to soldiers either on border protection duty or in Africa as part of the world’s largest peace support and peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Going back to the start of the initiative the SANDF said the small investment – a single Rand from senior non-commissioned officers – was a personal show of goodwill to troops on the ground. It has grown from the initial R25 000 collected to over R2 million annually in donations from the corporate sector.
Speaking ahead of last year’s launch function, SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke, said: “South African business and other generous sponsors help the defence force reach out and say thank you to 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”.
This year’s launch event will be held at the Pretoria Country Club in Waterkloof.