IT really was a case of lucky 13 for the effervescent Tellytrack presenter Julie Alexander on Saturday 23 November with the extremely successful hosting of the annual Phumelela Christmas Tree raceday – for the thirteenth successive year.

As usual, around 250 underprivileged children from various homes, notably the St Laurence’s Children’s Haven on the West Rand, were entertained in a special area near the parade ring where they were treated to lunch as well as a Christmas gift.

“It’s a very special day for me because I started this event 13 years ago,” said Alexander.

“I have to say the last five years since Rob Scott put his weight behind it, it’s really taken off.

“Apart from catering for the 250 children on the day, we have also managed too help 13 children with bursaries,” said Alexander.

Some of the recipients of these bursaries attended the raceday to personally thank all the sponsors.

“It’s an event that’s very special to. It’s close to my heart,” said Alexander.

“It’s so nice that we have the opportunity to touch the lives of the less fortunate. And yes, it’s lucky 13 in more ways than one this year.

“We started 13 years ago with 100 children. If my memory serves me correctly, we raised R50 000 in that year.

“Right now, we are sitting on about R600 000 for this year.

“I can only say thank you to all the sponsors for their continued support.”

According to Alexander, all the money raised over and above the bursaries, goes to the homes in the form of clothing for the children, appliances for the homes where they are taken care of as well as other necessities.

“Everything goes to the children.”

Richard Malan from the St Laurence’s Children’s Haven explained that he acts as facilitator to involve other children’s homes on the raceday.

 “We are involved with kids from previously disadvantaged backgrounds as well as abused and abandoned kids,” said Malan.

“We currently only have 27 kids at our home, so we liaise with other children’s homes so that we bring 250 kids to the raceday to have a fun day.”

According to Malan the bursaries are a very special way to ensure that the cycle of abuse and abandonment is broken.

He says some get a full bursary while others receive a partial bursary according to their needs. Bursaries are also not limited to studying at a university.

There are also bursaries for those who do distance studying or attend a college.

Phumelela’s Rob Scott thanked the sponsors, saying without their support, the children would not be getting the education they are. – TAB News.

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