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Give a ‘Gift of Character’ and change a boy’s life

by Tania Griffin
Boys on a hike with adult supervision

As the holiday season approaches, South Africans are gearing up for the traditional end-of-year and festive gift-giving, but this year, there’s a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact through The Character Company’s (TCC) Gifts with Character giving campaign

More and more people are preferring gifts in their name that impact on a worthy cause rather than accumulating ‘more stuff’.

Non-profit organisation TCC encourages a shift toward meaningful gift-giving that addresses pressing issues in communities. With an estimated 70% of South African children growing up in single-parent homes and 4 out of 5 boys lacking a consistent positive male role model, the need for positive change is urgent. Broken masculinity is associated with the country’s high rates of gender-based violence, crime, gangsterism, substance abuse and other mental disorders. Too often, the life of a fatherless boy is marked by school absenteeism, poor educational outcomes and lack of opportunities to excel in other areas such as sports, arts and social interactions.

TCC runs a countrywide MENtorship programme connecting fatherless boys with volunteer male mentors who help instil in them values such as kindness, honesty, respect, courage and self-discipline over a long-term relationship. The programme includes boys frequently meeting up with their mentor and participating in healthy, outdoors-based events such as weekend camps and adventure trips. 

Research underscores the effectiveness of mentorship in altering the life trajectory of disadvantaged youth. A healthy mentor relationship has been shown to improve behaviour, enhance relationship-building skills and positively impact school attendance and academic results. These are effects that last a lifetime, as mentor relationships play a significant role in the development of interpersonal skills, a growth mindset and self-mastery.

Founder and CEO of TCC Jaco van Schalkwyk says, “Our goal is to turn the tide against the culture of violence in South Africa by helping to raise boys to be good men. The scale of the problem of boys growing up in tough economic conditions and without positive father figures is shocking, and we have so many single mothers desperate for the chance for their boys to take part. 

“Through Gifts with Character, we’re inviting South Africans to make a difference to our country during the holiday season by enabling the enrolment of more boys in 2024.”

There are six Gifts with Character vouchers, each representing a core value based on the TCC mentorship programme:

• The R300 Kindness Voucher represents developing empathy, compassion and generosity, and provides mentorship for one boy for a month. 

• Emphasising the importance of truthfulness and integrity, the R500 Honesty Voucher enables a boy to attend an Awesome Weekend Camp.

• With a focus on long-term impact, the R1 000 Respect Voucher reflects developing self-worth and treating others with tolerance and understanding, and supports three months of mentorship.

• The R1 500 Courage Voucher allows a boy to join the yearly Once-in-a-Lifetime Adventure Trip to build resilience and confidence.

• Highlighting the importance of nurturing a sense of responsibility and control, the R1 800 Self-Discipline Voucher provides six months of mentorship.

• The most comprehensive option, the R6 500 Five Values Voucher, sets a boy on a life-affirming journey in 2024 and makes possible a year of mentorship, attendance at three Awesome Weekend camps, and participation in the Once-in-a-Lifetime Adventure Trip. This gift that keeps on giving reflects TCC’s holistic, values-based approach to character development.

Van Schalkwyk concludes, “TCC’s gift vouchers serve as an ideal alternative for those who want to give the gift of positive transformation. By choosing a TCC Gift with Character, you contribute to a brighter future for our boys and make a lasting impact that benefits our country.”

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