Sappi’s ‘toy factories’ intent on brightening the lives of the little ones

Sappi employees throughout the country eagerly await International Nelson Mandela Day every year to honour the late Tata Madiba’s legacy by donating their time to various volunteer initiatives.


This year, Sappi’s Mandela Day initiatives took place from 18 to 22 July and were geared particularly towards benefiting the very young members of our society. Sappi has existing programmes whereby several Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres in our communities are provided with ongoing support. Over the years, many of these centres have also received ECD training through our partners TREE (Training and Resources in Early Education) in KwaZulu-Natal and Penreach in Mpumalanga.


Because toys play such an essential role in a child’s development – helping them to develop problem-solving skills, teaching about sharing and conflict resolution, unleashing their creativity and imagination and helping to develop their fine and gross motor skills – Sappi decided to establish ‘wooden toy factories’ at their various offices and sites around the country, in support of this year’s Mandela Month.


By supporting an NGO that produces wooden toys, Sappi purchased the toys and provided employees with the materials to paint and beautify them. Employees took great pleasure in donating their 67 minutes in getting creative, knowing that their efforts would in turn bring great happiness to many children. More than a 1,000 painted toys will be donated to the Sappi-supported ECD centres, where children can enjoy many hours of educational play. In the words of Ruby Motaung, TREE CEO, “Play is one of the most important parts of a child’s development, and these toys from Sappi are going to make such a difference in the lives of the children.”


Elsewhere, employees participated in cosmetic renovations at ECD centres in their areas. One crèche that benefited from the Sappi team’s ministrations was the Buhlebezwe Crèche in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Following a request from the iNqgiya Community Committee for assistance after the crèche was badly damaged during the floods earlier this year, with the roof, windows and doors destroyed.


Sappi’s involvement with this crèche goes back to 2006, when the need for a centre for children was identified and Sappi’s Forestry team at the time worked with the community to erect the building. Mandela Day this year saw the Sappi team rolling up their sleeves alongside community members and EPWP workers from the local NDZ municipality to clean up the building, to burn fire breaks, to fix the roof and windows and to do some painting.


At the Davidale Village near Sappi’s Lothair plantation in Mpumalanga, the Sappi Forests team visited the Khuthalani Day Care Centre and got stuck into painting the interior and exterior walls and also handed over some much-needed chairs and tables, toys and colouring materials.


“Mandela Day is a very special time for the Sappi family, and our employees strongly identify with the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and make an impact. Our call to all employees was to roll up our sleeves to make a difference in our communities; to do what we can, where we are, with what we have, and to serve like Madiba. As always, the Sappi team rallied to the call and we are extremely proud of their efforts,” said Sappi Southern Africa’s General Manager Communications, Mpho Lethoko.


For further information

Zelda Schwalbach
External Communications Lead
Sappi Southern Africa
Tel +27 (0)31 001 7300


About Sappi Southern Africa

Sappi is a leading global provider of powerful everyday materials made from woodfibre-based renewable resources. As a diversified, innovative and trusted leader focused on sustainable processes and products, we seek to support a more circular economy.

Sappi is powered by the expertise of more than 12,000 people worldwide; with headquarters in four key regions: South Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.

Locally, we have a footprint in Gauteng (head office), KwaZulu Natal (three mills, forestry operations and a shared services hub), Mpumalanga (two mills and forestry operations) and the Western Cape (sales office staff). Our product offering in SA include dissolving pulp, packaging and specialities, graphic papers and forestry products.

We also generate shared value in the communities in which we operate, by investing in skills training and SMME development to boost employment and grow the economy.

Sappi will continue to build a thriving world by acting boldly to support the planet, people and prosperity.