Sweethearts Foundation 2024 Updates & Success Stories

A Decade of Hope for People With Disabilities


Last year, we partnered with The Sweethearts Foundation to help people with disabilities get the mobility support they need. The Sweethearts collect plastic bread tags and bottle tops from across the country, sending them to recycling plants in exchange for cash. It’s 100% volunteer-run, and they use 100% of the money they raise to purchase wheelchairs for people in need.


On 14 February 2024, the Sweethearts Foundation celebrated its 10-year anniversary, with over 500 wheelchairs donated to date! That’s 500 people blessed with movement, independence, and a brighter future.

Finding Lifelong Friendships in Unexpected Places


Many of the Sweethearts Foundation’s beneficiaries are children. In fact, the youngest person to receive a wheelchair was under 4 years old. As children grow, their mobility needs change, and so must their wheelchairs. Over the past ten years, the Sweethearts have been a constant, calming presence in many families’ lives, helping their children transition comfortably from chair to chair.


Often, that involves coaching parents and children through periods of discomfort and change. That means long phone calls with Mom, tearful visits to the OT’s office, and lots of patience and gentle encouragement. Through these moments, many beautiful friendships have been born.


“We motivate them, and they motivate us,” says Jessica Gordon, manager of the Foundation’s Johannesburg chapter. Sometimes, children can be on the waiting list for a long time, which can be disheartening for families and volunteers alike. From the day someone joins the waitlist to the day they get their wheelchair and far beyond, the Sweethearts are there to cheer them on.


Karabo’s Story

Karabo has touched many hearts at the Sweethearts Foundation with his sweet smile and playful spirit. The Sweethearts first met him in 2019 when he was just 7 years old. Although he could not walk or speak, he laughed with his eyes and loved having fun like any other child.


Twenty minutes after Karabo was born, he stopped breathing. Thankfully, he survived, but suffered severe brain damage and was diagnosed with severe Cerebral Palsy 6 months later. Life was tough for little Karabo who couldn’t crawl or sit as he grew. In 2020, the Sweethearts got him his first wheelchair, and suddenly, his world got a whole lot bigger.

They’ve kept in touch with Karabo and his loving mom, Ms. Mosa Mosothoane, ever since. Today, he plays outside with his friends, jokes with his big brother, and even visits a girl in his neighborhood with the same condition as him. He’s about to enter his teenage years, and has a lively social life. As his mom says, “The Sweethearts have not only provided a means of mobility, but an opportunity for Karabo to explore life in different ways.”


Meet The Sweethearts’ Latest Beneficiaries


So far, 2024 has been a busy year for the Sweethearts. In the first quarter alone, they managed to raise enough money to buy 13 wheelchairs! That’s all thanks to the simple decision to collect bread tags and bottle tops instead of throwing them away.

Meet Wanga, a beautiful 6-year-old girl with a fighting spirit. Wanga survived a tragic car accident in 2017 that damaged her spinal cord but never dulled her shine. She’s just as curious and full of joy as any other child her age, supported by loving parents dedicated to their special daughter.


By April 2024, Sweethearts had raised enough money through recycling to get a custom wheelchair made for Wanga. The chair is worth R22,816.41 which equates to over 11 tonnes of bottle tops and 2 tonnes of bread tags! 

Angel Wavhudi is a bright and bubbly 13-year-old who exudes sunshine and kindness. Cerebral Palsy affects her mobility, and she has trouble moving her right side. However, she strives for independence, using her left hand to write, eat, and help her devoted mom however she can.


This April, the Sweethearts were overjoyed to announce that they’d met their collection target for Angel’s wheelchair. Currently in production, she’ll be getting a specialized chair valued at R27,994! That’s over 15 tonnes of recycling! 

Other 2024 wheelchair recipients include Nolundi, a sweet and loving 52-year-old mom with muscular dystrophy, and Muzi, a passionate performer and motivational speaker with no arms or legs. Ms. Sophie Alexander, who suffered a stroke but needs mobility to care for her grandchildren, also received her wheelchair this January.


The Sweethearts have changed so many lives, young and old, since their inception in 2014. Visit their Facebook page or website for more heartwarming stories.


Exciting New Recycling Projects Ahead


Of course, the Sweethearts Foundation is not only about helping people with disabilities. It’s also about saving the planet by recycling plastic. Bread tags are made from high-impact polystyrene, which is 100% recyclable. Bottle tops are made from HDPE or polypropylene (plastics #2 and #5) which are also recyclable.

Collecting these plastics keeps them out of the environment where they can pollute land and water and harm birds and animals. In 2024, The Sweethearts Foundation is launching a new recycling initiative: plastic lids from takeaway coffee cups.


Like bread tags, coffee cup lids are made from high-impact polystyrene. They should have the recycling code 6 printed somewhere on the plastic, usually right on top of the lid.


Number 6 plastic is valuable in the recycling world because you can recycle it 20 times without it losing quality. That means you can use the same piece of plastic to make 20 coffee cup lids instead of just one, saving resources and reducing waste dramatically!


So if you’re already collecting bread tags and bottle tops for the Sweethearts, it’s time to start a third bucket for coffee cup lids. Clean recycling is good recycling, so remember to give them a quick rinse before adding them to your stash.



Help Us Collect Coffee Cup Lids, Bread Tags, and Bottle Tops!


The Sweethearts Foundation and its 500 wheelchair recipients wouldn’t be where they are today without your support. As they expand their collection efforts to include coffee cup lids, they’re looking for new partners to help them make a difference.


Business owners, this is your opportunity! Coffee shops, food trucks, market stalls, and restaurants, we want your recycling! Please contact the Sweethearts via their website for more information or start collecting today and find a drop-off point near you.


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