Representatives from KwaZulu-Natal Woolworths divisional office visited the Thanda Community Centre in Mtwalume to celebrate the installation of its new facility-wide solar-powered electricity.  As part of the Woolworths Just Cause initiative, employees at the divisional office teamed up with KZN store employees to raise R80 000 to bring sustainable power to Thanda which provides a range of essential community services. 

The Thanda Community Centre is a vital, safe development space for children 365 days a year.  It includes four Early Childhood Development (ECD) classrooms for three to five year olds, a library, a Science Lab and an Art Centre.  The facilities comprise of a demonstration garden, play areas including a skate park and a nutrition centre that provides children with daily balanced meals.  Apart from the ECD programme, Thanda provides children from Grades R to 9 with after-school and holiday programmes and has an organic farm programme with over 270 farmers across 18 farms.  Through farming and ECD training, the non-profit organisation also opens up employment and enterprise development opportunities for unemployed youth and adults. 

The Thanda Community Centre has always been off-the-grid, but they have not had the resources to connect the solar panels installed on the library roof to the other buildings and outside areas.  The new state-of-the-art system with energy efficient fittings and LED lighting now ensures sustainable power throughout the facilities so that laptops are charged up, while lights, office equipment, TVs, music centres, fans and refrigerators are always available for use.

“We are very grateful for the support of Woolworths and their staff for ensuring that every building at our Community Centre is connected to electricity. This is a great example of many people working together to achieve the same goal of sustainability for the community,” commented Angela Larkan Executive Director/Co-Founder of Thanda Community Centre.

Thanda Community Centre was identified as a potential Just Cause beneficiary by the Woolworths KZN divisional office, which then involved all the Woolies stores in the province in the fund-raising effort.  The Just Cause team-building initiative brings Woolies employees together and empowers them to make a difference in their communities by kick-starting a fundraising drive and matching funds raised up to R40 000.  The Woolworths Trust provided the KZN Woolies team with R10 000 in seed money which they used to hire the Sibaya IsiZulu theatre at the Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom, and stage the comedy show ‘The Dingalings’.  All store employees got involved in selling tickets, and with more than 500 tickets sold, the family-themed show was sell-out event.

“It was a great way for KZN Woolies employees, their families and friends to come together to enjoy a fantastic show while also doing good for a local organisation that has a phenomenal impact in their community,” says Kay Raidoo, Head of Woolworths KZN divisional office.  “With Woolies’ long-standing focus on sustainability it made sense for us to support Thanda in finding an ample solar-powered solution which is going to help them on a daily basis to deliver quality services in a vulnerable KZN community.”

Just Cause is part of the Woolworths Employee Community Involvement Programme that encourages clusters of Woolies employees to identify and propose a community cause that they will support through fund-raising.  Over the past year, R1.7 million has been raised by the Woolworths Just Cause initiative, which has been invested in 20 worthy causes across the country that were identified by employees from local Woolies’ offices and stores.