The Leading Hotels of The World “Pack for a Purpose” in Cape Town
By Rebecca Rothney
The process started in March with an email and culminated in November with incredible joy for the children of Cape Town South Africa!
Jennifer Oberstein, the Senior Director of Communications at The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), sent me an email expressing her interest in a partnership with Pack for a Purpose. She had been researching potential philanthropic partners and came across our online video. She wanted to learn more and asked me if there was potential to help a school in need in South Africa. I assured her it was a perfect fit. She explained that members of LHW will be attending the annual convention in November in Cape Town, South Africa, and they would be invited to participate in our initiative.
The next flurry of emails started at the end of September with confirmation of details and plans of implementation.
The Pack for a Purpose lodging in Cape Town is The Backpack & Africa Travel Centre and their project is The Great Commission United Academy. It was determined that this project would be the beneficiary of the supplies brought by the conference attendees.
Mario van Niekerk set up the Academy in 2001. Born and bred in Heideveld, South Africa, Mario had witnessed many of the community’s problems first hand and felt passionate about helping many of the area youth and keeping them off the streets. Hence the Soccer Academy was born. GCU is not just a football club, it has expanded into a wider range of community activities including rope skipping, tutoring, life skills, a school for dropouts, and mentorships for hundreds of children. The GCU Academy’s programs provide a way out of being trapped in the cycle of gangs and drugs.
November arrived with some wonderful additional requests. Pack for a Purpose was invited to provide a guest speaker for the opening day of the conference. Lee, one of the owners of The Backpack & Africa Travel Centre, graciously agreed to represent us. Lee also arranged to have a demonstration by some of the beneficiaries of the supplies. Several young ladies from the award winning skip rope team started by the GCU were able to show off their talents at the conference. The reception for the young women, Lee told me, was enthusiastic, warm and appreciative.
The response from the conference attendees who came from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa was truly amazing – they collectively brought over 320 kilos of supplies for the project!
It took several days for Lee and her team to collect this enormous amount of supplies from the four hotels where the attendees were staying. Lee and her team then sorted out the supplies. They realized they had received so many supplies they were able to share them with several other community-based projects in need in Cape Town. The photos you see here show the joy and wonder of the children receiving supplies they would not otherwise have had access to, and which will benefit them greatly at school and after school activities.
The attendees of the conference of The Leading Hotels of The World made a Big Impact on the lives of the children of Cape Town by choosing to “pack for a purpose”!
Hundreds of children benefitted from the supplies brought by the convention attendees. Another immediate benefit was that two sister properties already supporting community-based projects in South Africa and members of The Leading Hotels of The World chose to become part of the Pack for a Purpose website. They are The Oyster Box and The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa. It is our hope that other members of The Leading Hotels of the World will also choose to be Pack for a Purpose participants.
Here are some of personal anecdotes from attendees of the LHW Conference:
Hans Bruland, Vice President & General Manager
The Hay-Adams, Washington D.C.
“The call to action from LHW and the accompanying information was sufficient in getting us started — Truly simple, straightforward, and rewarding. Our sales, reservation and catering teams were the most generous, and the hotel more than matched their load. I had made it very clear that I was willing to carry an extra piece of luggage on everyone’s behalf. A few years back, I had the privilege and fortune along with my wife to visit the Cape and other destinations in South Africa while on safari. We added a side trip to the townships in Cape Town, visiting an elementary school as well as an orphanage. These visits are still vivid in my memory…the kids, the voices, the enthusiasm and the joy was quite emotional. Therefore, the Pack for a Purpose initiative was a no-brainer on my part and took little to no effort. You now have a lifelong fan!
Ruth Jones, Executive Assistant Manager – Marketing & Development
The Ritz London
“With the kind permission of Mr Boxall, General Manager of The Ritz, we purchased school uniforms consisting of white shirts, grey shorts, grey skirts, grey trousers and white socks for all ages. We then contacted Tesco Supermarket to see if they would assist and without any hesitation they kindly matched The Ritz’s donation in school tokens to spend on their school section online which we then used to buy items such as: Teacher demonstration clocks, timetables, equivalent fractions, find the whole number playing flash cards, soft dice for teaching about probability, smart darts (accelerating the learning of maths), world desk mats, a wind-up 10m tape, a box of magnetic Cuisenaires (for numeric values) and connecting Cuisenaires, laminated banana number bunch, protractors, graph posters, reflective pairs, box of 288 coloured pencils x 2, bright card 200 sheets, bunting (colourful nylon flags), activity paper x 500, stopwatch, playground tennis set, skipping ropes, alphabet mat, crepe paper pack, huge kit bag, and rulers. Our sales, marketing and IT teams spent time unwrapping and packing all the items into two huge bags. The Ritz is delighted to have helped so many young people in Cape Town.”
Phil Logsdon, Senior Director of Marketing
The Leading Hotels of the World
“When we were told about the LHW partnership with Pack for a Purpose, I knew that I wanted to participate. I also knew that I would not come close to the total allowable luggage for my flight so I could bring one, if not two suitcases full of items for this program. I sent an email to the parents in my son’s Y-Guides Tribe (a YMCA youth activity group) asking for gently-used soccer and athletic gear (as we all have closets full of stuff that has been out-grown). I also knew there would be interest among my colleagues in our LHW New York office who were not going to be able to attend our conference. I issued an office-wide call for donations. Nearly everyone in the office wanted to give something. Some folks went to sporting good stores to buy new soccer balls, others gave cash as I told them that I would be making a run to the sporting goods store as well. I proudly checked in for my flight with two extra checked bags full of soccer gear including… 22 soccer balls, 40 training cones, 12 pairs of cleats, 7 pairs of shin guards, 15 inflation needles, 4 inflation pumps, 6 pinneys (practice jerseys), 2 coach whistles, 1 training board, 12 water bottles, and 5 equipment bags.”