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The giving of gifts

A young mother’s donation every year on her birthday of clothing, toys and treats to a children’s home has grown into such a huge undertaking, she needed a minibus and trailer to transport the load this year.

Eileen van der Watt (26) is a retail manager at EberVet Vetshop at Lion Square by day, but at night she sorts and packs boxes and boxes of clothing, toys, stationery, books, food, sweets, treats, shoes and a myriad other items donated throughout the year by friends and Facebook followers responding to her appeal.

On her birthday she delivers the boxes to the Andrew Murray Children’s Home in Wellington and hosts a party for the more than 160 children.

Eileen was prompted to collect for the children because her own mother spent part of her childhood in an orphanage.

“My mother was lucky; she was adopted, but some of the children never find homes of their own. I have my own child who is turning five this year so this project means a lot to me as a mother,” says Eileen.

Eileen started collecting for Andrew Murray four years ago. She set up a special Facebook page – Kriekie Wellington Kinderhuisprojek – and called on friends and family to donate items for the children in lieu of birthday presents for herself. Donations flooded in. Very soon she needed to set aside a room in her home, as well as additional garage storage space, and approach transport companies for help when the load became too big to move.

“This year the load was so big we needed a minibus to tow the trailer supplied by Jimmy’s Trailer Hire. So Marius Henn of Turn to Gas took the day off work and drove his company’s bus for us while Access Auto sponsored the petrol. So many people step in to help. So many more have opened their hearts to this project. It gets bigger and better every year.”

Because her birthday fell on a Friday this year and many of the children get to spend weekends with families, Eileen opted to deliver her goodies the day before. Blankets were laid out in the Children’s Home garden and the children enjoyed a picnic under the trees with party packs and cupcakes supplied by Eileen.

Even the home’s resident Jack Russell got a look in. Vetshop supplier, Vetsbrands, donated a bag of dog food.

The boxes of clothing, food, stationery and books are kept in storage at the home for as and when they are needed.

“It’s wonderful to know that when a child needs a new pair of shoes, they are there.”

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