21 Years of Freedom, 21 000 blankets for Nelson Mandela Day
What did Carolyn Steyn, founder of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, do when MC Anele Mdoda handed her the microphone at the Saxon hotel on Thursday 19 February 2015 during the launch of the Cell C Support for 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day 2015?
She curtsied to Jose dos Santos, CEO of Cell C, and thanked him for his commitment and support in helping South Africans with a particular challenge to South African schools to knit and crochet 21 000 blankets by 21 April this year. These blankets will be spread across the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 21 April at the feet of the Nelson Mandela statue before being donated to charity organisations around the country.
Not only will this create a world record, but countless children, everyday South Africans, celebrities and knitters will be empowered to keep 21 000 people warm this year in the name of Nelson Mandela – stitch by stitch.
67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day started in effect in December 2013 when Zelda la Grange, Nelson Mandela’s trusted assistant, presented philanthropist and “Arts Angel” Carolyn Steyn with a challenge: knit 67 blankets in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Mandela Day brand!
Steyn accepted La Grange’s challenge but soon realised that she wouldn’t be able to achieve it alone. She called on her friends for help and created the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day Facebook group. More than 6 000 blankets were created last year and the project captured the hearts and hands of people across the globe.
In this 21st year of democracy, South Africans are encouraged to knit or crochet a blanket. These will be spread across the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria at the feet of the Nelson Mandela statue before being donated to charity organisations around the country.
67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, founded by social entrepreneur Carolyn Steyn, encourages people across the world to knit or crochet blankets to keep needy people warm, in honour of Madiba, and linking in with Nelson Mandela Day and the 67 Minutes initiative, driven by The Nelson Mandela Foundation. It has received international recognition as one of South Africa’s greatest projects in weaving the fabric of the South African nation together.
To date more than 9 000 blankets have been created and handed out to charity organisations. This year the aim is 21 000 blankets and a host of well-known faces have already taken up the challenge including Sophie Ndaba; Miss South Africa Ziphozakhe Zokufa; Anele Mdoda; Gareth Cliff; Johnny Clegg; the cast of Generations, Melinda Bam and Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe.
Schools throughout the country are encouraged to take part and could share more than R650 000 in cash prizes. Twenty one schools stand in line to win one of R21 000 prizes sponsored by Cell C.
In addition founder Carolyn Steyn has donated a cash prize of R210 000 in her personal capacity for the participating school who produces the most single bed size blankets.
Ordinary South Africans – from top CEOs, to community leaders and politicians – will be called upon to make their contribution by delivering a blanket or adopting a knitter to do it on their behalf. Corporates are also encouraged to ask their staff to volunteer to produce blankets and provide the yarn and tools to assist them.
Knitters who post a selfie of themselves knitting on 67 Blankets’ social pages could win one of three Amber Gold, Huawei Mate 7 mobile handsets valued at R 6000 each. Post your selfie on @67Blankets and @CellC with the tags #Believe, #EPIC and #67Blankets.
Cell C has recognised the creative and innovative call to all South Africans to use the power that is in their hands and support this initiative. The company will also empower a group of women in Diepsloot by donating wool and tools and teaching them to knit and crochet as part of this year’s initiative.
Carolyn Steyn, founder of this award winning initiative, says: “The good corporate citizenship of Cell C will go a long way to supporting the vision of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day. We also encourage South African businesses throughout the country to get behind this campaign and ensure that we continue to live the Nelson Mandela legacy.”
Says Suzette van der Merwe, Executive Commercial Communications at Cell C and head of the Cell C Foundation: “This inspiring activity can knit together communities and people across the country. We are hoping that all South Africans will take up this challenge.”