Gap year turns into big charity drive

Amy Erasmus and Jamie Brits, of Houdini, on top of the clothing which was collected

When Bay teen Amy Erasmus finished matric last year she had no idea what she wanted to do, so she took a gap year – and found she had way too much time on her hands.

Not keen on sitting idly by, the bubbly 19-year-old set to work helping local charities, surprising even herself with how much she was able to achieve.

She said: “I would see people standing at a robot somewhere and my heart would sink because I desperately wanted to help.

“A group of friends and I went to help at a soup kitchen in Malabar [and] then I thought to myself that this is want I wanted to do and that I had the time.”

From there, she set up a Facebook page – Keep Caring – calling for donations of food and clothing.

To date she has collected almost 3 000 items of clothing, 256kg of food, four boxes of shoes and more than 30 blankets.

Erasmus said working out the logistics of running a small-scale charity drive was a little daunting, but she had no regrets.

“Once I started plotting the logistics the only thing missing were easily accessible drop-off points.

“One of the first people I phoned was Jamie Brits from Houdini. Jamie not only was super keen to join me, but allowed me to make use of all the Houdinis in PE as drop-off points.

“The poster was then made, printed and dropped off with a big box at each Houdini branch.

Asked about some of the challenges she said: “When you’re as young as I am it’s difficult to get the message across.

“So often people will disregard you, thinking that this is just a pet project, and won’t take you seriously.

She added that she found it particularly hard to get over the fact that so many people struggle.

“I can never get over it as it breaks my heart.”

Erasmus said the Facebook page was great as so many people had reached out to help.

“My peers and parents have been helping, especially when the donations become a bit much.

“They help me sort and deliver,” she said.

Erasmus has helped charities Giving Gifts to New-Born Babies, Love Story and Hannah’s Arms.

Des Goodwin, of Giving Gifts of Love to New-Born Babies said: “We hand out 200 baby hampers per month to the poorest so she’s been collecting so she can assist us. She’s been extremely helpful and we are so grateful.”

Elaine Watson, of Love Story, said: “It’s been really lovely having Amy come and volunteer at Love Story. We’re just so grateful. It’s always good to have members of the public come and help us. She’s young and yet she’s incredibly generous.

“It’s not very often you find people that young wanting to help and serve the community.”

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