The Smile 90.4FM Winter Wish programme, which launched last month and ends this Friday 23 June, has seen an overwhelmingly positive response from Capetonians.  The programme was designed to bring relief and comfort to those in need, with the help of generous citizens and organisations. In the space of four weeks, 41 wishes have been granted, whether it was donating something small such as a pair of shoes to someone who can’t afford it, or offering funding for a home that looks after neglected babies. 


“When we planned the Smile 90.4FM Winter Wish programme we had no idea that this winter would be so severe.  The much-needed first rains of the season came with the worst storms in decades.  And, on top of that, we have the drought and declining economy.  Those closest to the bread line were obviously the worst affected.  The cumulative effect was that many Winter Wish on-air moments carried more emotion and greater significance than we ever expected,” says Clive Ridgway Smile 90.4FM Program Director.


Making wishes come true

Smile 90.4FM do a winter campaign each year, with last year’s Breakfast for Beds campaign raising a total of 74 489 beds for the Haven Night Shelter. This year the Smile 90.4FM Winter Wish programme, has been connecting wish makers with donors to grant wishes since the start of winter. “It’s the season to spread love and warmth, and we are committed to promoting acts of love and kindness that make a difference in the lives of our listeners. We have relied on the warmth of our caring community and generous partners to help us make wishes, big or small, a reality,” says Ridgway. 


The radio station received an influx of heart-warming stories from people across the Western Cape over the four-week period, and it’s been the responsibility of a dedicated Winter Wish Committee to go through each wish and see how they can connect the wish makers with a wish donor. The ‘call to action’ was supported with plenty of on-air presence during the stations Breakfast Show, with wish makers connecting live on-air with donors. Not only was the Smile 90.4FM Winter Wish programme able to offer much-needed help to charity organisations, but it also reached out to individuals who have been fighting their own personal struggles. 


A reason to smile 

Candice Budden from Edgemead, made a wish for her 74-year-old dad who suffers daily with chronic mouth pain. The pain is so bad, that he has difficulty eating which has led to severe health problems. “He doesn’t eat, it got to the point where we all thought he wasn’t going to make it through this, and he himself wasn’t sure if he was going to wake up each morning. He is so thin, but he just can’t eat with the amount of pain he is in.” says Budden.  Her wish was for someone to be able to finally help with her dad’s teeth so that he can eat again and get back to a healthy weight.  Orthodontist Dr. Riana Moolman heard of this plea and generously offered to grant this wish. Fighting through tears, an astonished Budden gave a heart-felt thanks to Dr. Moolman on-air “Would you really be able to help him? Sorry I’m crying, I’m so grateful, thank you so much.” 


Special needs wheelchair for baby Micka

Adele Van Heerden from Mitchell’s Plain who lost her husband last year, also learned that her baby, Micka, had three years to live after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  She has no source of income, and is staying at a shelter surviving on a monthly disability grant.  ‘It’s terrifying, but at the same time you have to try and stay strong,” says Van Heerden.  Having to give2-year-old Micka around the clock care, Van Heerden’s wish was to get a special buggy wheelchair with settings to help her sit, and keep her neck straight up. Gareth Lloyd-Jones from EcoWize heard of this wish and offered to purchase the special wheelchair, which can cost anything from R10 000 – R15 000. Lloyd-Jones also offered a craft set for Van Heerden’s second daughter, Nikita who is Autistic.


Helping the elderly 

Wish receiver, Andrea Geldenhuys and her mother, decided to take 74-year-old, Valerie Julies, into their home six years ago, when they met her in Ravensmead. They had learned of her poor living conditions and the ill-treatment she was receiving from the family member she lived with.  Many would be sceptical to take strangers into their home, but Geldenhuys would not stand for an elderly woman being treated the way Valerie was.  “I’m not going to let that happen to an elderly lady, she could be my grandmother. Valerie has been through lots. Her son was shot three years ago and was the only person looking after her and bringing her groceries”, says Geldenhuys.  The wish that Geldenhuys put forward for Valerie was to receive blankets and groceries. “My heart breaks as my finances are not good for a few months now. It’s winter time and she needs blankets and groceries, all I want for her is to sleep warm with a stomach full of food.”  This wish was granted by an anonymous donor who gave Valerie grocery vouchers to the value of R2500. 


A second chance 

Bobby and Shandre Conradie, who are volunteers at the halfway home for babies, House ofThembiso, in Kraaifontein, put a call out for any kind of help with funding or baby items. The home cares for orphaned babies, mostly babies with HIV or special needs, who are either found abandoned or come from hospitals like Tygerberg and Karl Bremer from mothers who are unable to care for them.  According to Shandre, the great dream of Dalene De Meyer, who is the house mother, is to not have to turn any babies down when she is notified of an infant in need of a home, due to lack of funding and staff shortages. 


“It’s such a joy seeing these little babies who are basically deserted, flourish with the love that they get at the House of Thembiso; just having people who come in and hold them, care for them, change their nappies, and see to the basic needs that the babies require. It’s thousands of Rands a month looking after one little baby, with diapers, formula and purity and sometimes they get sick and they need medical attention, so the need for funding never stops,” says Conradie.  The Smile 90.4FM Winter Wish programme could grant Bobby and Shandre their wish, with the help of Kids Emporium, who donated R20 000 worth of baby items, including blankets and beanies to keep the babies warm this winter. 


The power of giving 

To end off the Smile 90.4FM Winter Wish programme, the Smile team granted a wish themselves, by answering the plea of Cape Town based volunteer Karen Cronje to help The Learning Vine Tutor Centre, a special needs school in Table View.  Smile 90.4FM paid a visit to the school this week, and donated R10 000 worth of much needed stationary and toys. 


The Winter Wish Committee also distributed blankets, clothing and non-perishables collected from Capetonians at their office during their Winter Wish walk through, which was held Monday 19 June. 


“We hope that the spirit of giving that we saw throughout this Smile 90.4FM Winter Wish programme can live on and that we have inspired others to help those in need,” says Ridgway.

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