When you were a child, what was your dream for when you were “big”? Was it to be an astronaut? A baker? A doctor, or a famous footballer, maybe? Whatever it was and whatever you’ve done so far, just imagine if you hadn’t been able to read!

It’s suddenly easy to understand how low literacy levels can have seriously detrimental effects on the future prospects of children, especially in South Africa.  So, just imagine where reading can take a child…

Giving back is always at the heart of a Woolies Christmas, and in 2016 Woolworths partnered with Shine Literacy and MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet in a bid to provide children across the country with access to quality learning opportunities and resources, and to equip parents and communities to play an active role in promoting early literacy. Having seen the difference learning to read can make in a child’s life, we have once again collaborated with Shine Literacy in 2017 to help work towards creating a nation of readers—and our customers can get involved, too.

Shine Literacy is a non-profit organisation that seeks to create a culture of reading in South African schools, homes, workplaces and communities. They do this by establishing Shine Centres and Chapters (social franchises) to provide support to children in grades two and three, to strengthen their reading, writing and speaking skills; and by establishing Boek Hoek’s which provide children with access to reading resources. Through these initiatives, they are improving literacy outcomes for children nationwide. Shine Literacy’s programmes help transform the prospects of some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children, by breaking the destructive cycle of poor literacy, low education attainment, wasted potential and poverty. They strive to support children as they learn to read and write helping to foster a life-long love of books and learning.

This Christmas, from 01 November to 25 December 2017, every time you swipe your linked Woolies or MySchool card, a donation will be made directly to Shine Literacy (in addition to the contribution Woolworths usually makes to your MySchool beneficiary), with an aim to raise R450 000. For this year, Woolies’ main focus will be on placing additional resources in Shine Centres and Chapters, helping create “Boek Hoek’s” , equipping the development of reading corners, and the training and support of Shine Literacy volunteers, who implement the reading programmes in schools. Just imagine what your swipe could do!

To give you an idea of the impact this partnership can have, last year’s results made a significant difference: with the help of our customers, Woolworths’ donation to Shine Literacy was used to establish 20 reading corners in under-resourced foundation phase classrooms, as well as to provide 2 400 families with reading resources and the inspiration and skills to embed the vital culture of reading at home. The reading corners that were created will mean that all children in these classes have regular access to beautiful books – both in English as well as in their home languages. 

For the 2016 campaign, Woolworths collaborated with Book Dash, to create 10 engaging, beautifully illustrated children’s books. (Book Dash is an NPO that assembles teams comprising writers, illustrators and designers, and in something of a marathon, they create one book per team within 12 hours). The 10 titles produced at the event which took place last year, will be sold this year in Woolworths stores countrywide for R25 each or R60 for three, in a “buy one, give one” initiative, designed to pay it forward. Customers wanting to make even more of a contribution to the cause can also purchase a Shine shopper in stores for R35, and R10 from the sale of every bag will go to Shine Literacy. 

To kick off the drive this year, pupils from Kannemeyer Primary School in Cape Town’s Grassy Park have been featured in an inspiring campaign, revealing their aspirations for when they grow up, which vary from becoming a policeman to a “dancing doctor”. Each of the kids who participated in the campaign was invited to decorate a letter of the alphabet that represents their chosen ambition. These heart-warming snippets will be featured in a beautiful shoot, along with the creatively decorated alphabet letters, and can be seen in the windows of selected Woolworths stores in the format of a giant digital book.

This Christmas we hope to inspire South Africa to get involved and make the vision of a nation of readers a reality, in partnership with Shine Literacy. Woolworths’ Christmas wish for children all over South Africa is to feel hope, joy and inspiration. We believe that words can change worlds—just imagine where reading can take us…