To commemorate the second anniversary of Madiba’s passing, the United States chapter of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day formally launch the initiative at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC on Friday, 4 December 2015.
Carolyn Steyn, 67 Blankets founder and “arts angel”, is in the US capital and attended the event, which will see this award-winning and record-breaking “good-wool” campaign extend its reach and influence even further.
The event, hosted by South Africa’s ambassador to the US, Mninwa Mahlangu, saw blankets being laid at Mandela’s statue outside the SA Embassy as well as performances by children from the ORR Elementary School (which is the SA Embassy’s adopted school under the DC Public Schools Embassy Adoption Programme).
To say 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has been a juggernaut would be an understatement.
To date, thousands of blankets have been knitted, sewn, quilted or crocheted since Madiba’s trusted assistant, Zelda le Grange, issued a challenge to Steyn after her beloved former boss’s passing on 5 December 2013: create 67 blankets (one for each year of public service by the great man) before Nelson Mandela Day, 18 July 2014, to be distributed to those in need as winter took hold.
Steyn took up the cudgels and turned a modest challenge into a mushrooming philanthropic movement, chalking up a Guinness World Record (for the largest area covered by a blanket – 3,377m2 – when all the blankets were laid side by side at the Union Buildings in April 2015) and winning an ANN7 award for Campaign of the Year.
Men, women and children, businesses and even prisoners around the country have risen to the challenge and crafted blankets to donate to those in need at institutions such as old-age homes, homeless shelters, children’s homes and outreach organisations.
Even “knitwits” as far afield as Nigeria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Cyprus, London and India have bought in to this initiative with enthusiasm, spreading the Madiba magic to those in need. Friday marks the official launch of 67 Blankets in the US capital – a fitting tribute to the great leader and statesman and an extension of his legacy, two years after his death.
For more information about 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, visit www.67blankets.co.za or visit www.nelsonmandela.org to find out more about International Nelson Mandela Day.