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Beanies-4-Babies Lynette Strydom

This episode marries two of my passions: people helping others and knitting. I first saw the Beanies-4-Babies poster in one of my favourite wool shops here in PE/Gqeberha. I took down the contact person’s phone number and got in touch. Lynette Strydom replied the very same day and agreed to meet with me to tell me more about this project she started a few years ago to help underprivileged preemie babies.

I felt at home immediately when I sat down and had a cup of tea with Lynette at her house. Her passion for the project was clear from the very start, all the boxes full of donations on her dining room table confirmed this fact. During our conversation, I also discovered that her devotion to this work has touched many lives in the Eastern Cape. It’s not just the little babies and their families who benefit from Lynette’s brainchild.

A true community project

The more I listened to her story, the more I realised that she’s created a project that resonates with many people. A project they can also take ownership of. Lynette shared with me how some of her regular donors are elderly people who love to be a part of something that helps others. She meets up with some of these women in person to collect their items, and she’s seen how happy they are to be a part of something. It’s given them a new purpose, something to talk about.

Lynette was especially thrilled to discover that some of her donors have met up in person and started to form friendships because of their involvement with Beanies-4-Babies! She explained that financial constraints don’t need to stop a person from getting involved because she uses some of the financial donations she receives to buy wool for those who are on a tight budget but who still have the skills to make the beanies. Donations come in from far and wide, not just from Port Elizabeth/Gqeberha.

Anyone can support this project

Donations also aren’t limited to beanies. Some people feel inspired to knit jerseys or toys, and these are also very welcome. Lynette estimated that the project had grown to consist of over 200 regular donors by the year 2022. And, at the time of our interview, she counted that 26 500 beanies had been donated to those in need at Dora Nginza!

The birth of Beanies-4-Babies

Lynette started this project in 2018.  It all began with a talk by a doctor she respected. A few years ago, her son had nearly drowned, and because she didn’t have medical aid, she had to rely on public healthcare. This experience opened a new world for her. She had to take her son to Dora Nginza, and it was here that she realised the great need at this state hospital.

So when she heard the doctor who had treated her son was giving a talk at a local church, she listened with an empathetic ear. During his talk, the doctor mentioned that there was a need for beanies to help keep the prem babies warm. And that’s when Lynette decided to do something about it. She felt that this was the perfect place to start giving back to the staff at Dora Nginza who had been so helpful to her, as well as to support this community.

Lynette started rallying people to help with the knitting and crocheting, and went to Dora Nginza herself to drop off the donations. This started a long-term relationship with the hospital staff. It took a while to win their trust, but they couldn’t help but be won over when they saw Lynette’s dedication to the cause!

Lynette Strydom shows off knitted donations for Beanies-4-Babies
Lynette showing off some of the many donations she receives

You can get involved too

If you would like to support Beanies-4-Babies there are several ways to get involved. The best thing to do would be to reach out to Lynette herself directly. You can send a message to her on 082 786 6785. She welcomes anyone who can crochet or knit and wants to make baby items. Or, if you aren’t comfortable doing that but would like to donate some money or wool to the cause, your support would be greatly appreciated too.

If you’ve already made a few baby items that you’d like to donate, you can deposit these at one of the following drop-off points in the city:

  • Melody’s Wool Shoppe
  • Little Angel
  • Pandora Wool Boutique
  • JA Floral
  • Skatkis Lap Quilt Shop
  • Daltar in the Mount Pleasant SPAR complex

For the whole month of November Beanies-4-Babies will be focussing on purple because it’s the colour specifically used to signal prem babies. In December, all things festive are welcome, so they will be particularly happy to receive red, white and/or green items. Mandela Day in July is another big day on their calendar, with many donors choosing to send through 67 items in honour of this special day!

Boxes full of donations!

Follow Beanies-4-Babies on social media

If you want to learn more about this project based in Port Elizabeth/Gqeberha please visit their Facebook page here.