Hosted by Talk Radio 702 and Sun International, this event will be held on 18 June, the winter solstice and therefore the longest night of the year, outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton. It seeks to change the concept that home is only a place that the homeless truly appreciate. Terry Volkwyn, Primedia CEO, feels that it is quite ironic that the event is being held in Sandton – in a city that is home to many of these CEOs’ businesses and families, they will be sleeping in a home of a different kind.

Each of the ten CEOs who have confirmed their participation so far will donate R100 000 to Girls & Boys Town, a national organisation that helps underprivileged youth, and in return will receive cardboard and a sleeping bag in which to spend the night. They are hoping to raise a total of R25 million. The idea to give the donations to Girls & Boys Town is a significant one as Bruce Whitfield, Talk Radio 702 talk show host, said that it is being found that more and more CEOs in our country started off in underprivileged situations but through sheer determination managed to beat the odds. This initiative is therefore a way of reminding them of the background from where they came.

A few well-known CEOs who have confirmed to take part in the Sleepout are the CEOs of City Lodge Hotel, FNB Business Banking, Europcar, Mulichoice, Telkom and the Mail & Guardian.

Although many of us have not quite reached CEO status yet, and some have no intention to, the idea behind it is one that has no monetary or age limit. It is about getting in touch with a part of South Africa that many of us never give a second thought to, besides when we see a beggar on the street or drive past a township. We can hand out money, but taking a more hands-on approach has a more long-lasting effect. As Volkwyn says, “There is very little hope without active citizens. We can’t depend on [the] government.” The reality, however, is that at the end of the night these CEOs know that they have a comfortable home awaiting them. That is why it is important to realise that every helping hand counts and that making a contribution is so easy.

Closer to home, The TuksFM Woolly Winter community outreach programme began in 2012 and asks listeners to donate tinned food and blankets, which are then distributed to various organisations. This year the project is running from now up until 29 May and they are hoping to raise 6 tons of goods to help the cold and starving this winter. It may not be a R25 million donation, but each effort helps to chip away at the problems that so many people in this country face.

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