Corporate Social Responsibility Feature
SPAR rises to meet year’s new challenges
SPAR Eastern Cape’s 2020 kicked off with huge expectations of an event filled year all geared around a desire to be part of the communities we serve, to be more than just food.
The Charity Golf Day, trade shows, the SPAR Women’s Challenge, Homegrown Heroes and the Kirkwood Wildsfees were just some of the events planned where support could be offered to deserving beneficiaries.
Brought two months forward in the calendar, the 27th Port Elizabeth Women’s Challenge road race was launched in January amid much fanfare. Probably most important was the role the Women’s Challenge plays is in helping the less fortunate, with a call to runners to align themselves to the ever growing need to support the many young women unable to afford sanitary products.
“We are proud to hold hands with our beneficiaries; Options (in George), the Community Chest and Khazimla, in this cause,” events and sponsorship manager Alan Stapleton said.
“October 17 has been earmarked for the postponed Women’s Challenge, but all plans are very much dependent on government regulation. But whatever happens, our promise to the beneficiaries will stand true.”
SPAR Eastern Cape’s opening charity event of the year, the SPAR Charity Golf Day mixed the old with the new in another enjoyable occasion at Humewood in February when the beneficiaries, Sanccob and the Wilderness Foundation, were able to highlight the work being done in their spheres of focus in creating more awareness around the environment, and linked to the SPAR STOP Plastic Campaign.
At the end of the day, each received a donation of R35,000 to assist them in their respective fields.
The Homegrown Heroes, a joint initiative by SPAR and The Herald which recognises the achievements of local sportsmen and women, saw Walmer’s World Boxing Federation featherweight champion Nozipho Bell named the 2019 overall winner at the Radisson Blu Hotel on February 29. Former Pearson High water polo player Yanah Gerber was the Homegrowing Heroes winner.
And then Covid-19 hit and the lockdown arrived. Plans dissolved as events were postponed or cancelled. All focus turned to support at store levels, and ensuring that as an essential service SPAR was still able to offer customers a safe and comfortable shopping experience in stressful and trying times.
With the economy under stress and many businesses unable to operate, a range of initiatives were triggered across the 125 outlets in the region. They included allocating shelf space to small businesses in the area, the delivery of food parcels in poorer areas, soup kitchens, sanitary towel donations, support for a virtual marathon in the backyard of a runner and even assisting the caddies at local golf clubs.
Other stores have placed special emphasis on helping those in their neighbourhoods, working with churches and similar organisations to identify impoverished communities who have nothing to fall back on.
Across the board, SPAR staff have risen to the challenge to ensure stores operate at maximum efficiency, while adhering to health protocols.
“The front-line staff have been the unsung heroes of the past two months. Their attitude has been outstanding in dealing with the issues we have been faced with at this stage,” one store owner said.
“They have taken on any extra duties without complaint and have continued to serve our customers with the same dedication as during normal times.”
From a Divisional Office perspective, apart from supporting the retailers in dealing with the new regulations, event focus went to the various store initiatives.
They also joined the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality drive to set up quarantine facilities across the metro.
In addition, stores were set up as drop-off points where the public could donate bedding, linen and pillowcases for use in the facilities.
A fun challenge on Facebook which dared friends to swallow a raw egg, among other things, was turned around on a national level by SPAR. Instead of accepting the challenge, customers were asked to contribute to a cause by donating six eggs, a litre of milk and 1kg of maize to deserving recipients.
These were then donated to institutions or communities in the vicinity of the stores.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s Ubuntu Covid-19 initiative, which aims to minimise the effects of the pandemic in the region, was also supported with a sizeable donation.
And on the home front, the SPAR EC distribution centre also provided staff with food parcels to donate to a worthy and deserving person or family in their home environment. With the future still so uncertain, SPAR commits to continue to assist in serving their communities, to offering convenient and safe shop- ping experiences and to embracing the family values so important during these times.
This article was supplied and paid for by SPAR.