Santa Cause for Paws

Written by Claudia Ferreira

Yolande and her great team

In October 2013, an amazing initiative to bring festive joy to shelter animals was born: Santa Cause for Paws.

The start of something magical

Animal lover Mandy Schwark had come up with a concept of collecting gifts for shelter animals and, as it was something I’d discussed doing with friends, I was tagged on her page. I offered to help with a website… before you knew it, Mandy and I were fully involved in the cause and running the drive together. Next, Durbanites Clair and Kaylee Bruce made contact; in 2013 the Durban branch was formed. In our first year, we delivered 2,195 boxes to selected animal welfare organisations in Johannesburg and Pretoria and 667 boxes in Durban.

Each box contains food and a tasty treat, something to keep them warm, something they need (like dewormer or flea collars), and something to keep them busy. A little “thank you” for the hard-working shelter workers is also a lovely touch, if people want to include it.

In 2014, Mandy moved to London. That’s when I knew I needed to get help from a volunteer I could trust – and who was passionate about the drive. I contacted Yolande Gerber who’d helped us the previous year by being a drop-off person. Since then, we’ve been the driving force behind the campaign, gathering support from many incredible long-standing volunteers who help us each year. Cape Town and the Vaal joined the campaign in 2014. That year we collected more than 2,500 boxes in Johannesburg and Pretoria, over 1,100 in Durban, over 650 in Cape Town, and over 100 in the Vaal. Since then we’ve added many other areas and there are so many coordinators and volunteers that we literally can’t name them all; we rope everyone we know into helping us. Luckily for the animals, it has taken off very well!

Making Christmas Special For the Furkids

The campaign is made possible by a huge group of animal lovers; it works because of the volunteer drop-offs and everyone else involved. We’re 100% volunteer-run – no one receives payment for being a coordinator or volunteer; everyone involved does it for the sheer love of animals. We are also constantly expanding and always trying to include new shelters and areas. 

Santa Cause for Paws is committed to collecting and distributing Christmas packs made by the public to various animal shelters. Our aim is to make Christmas a little more special for cats and dogs in shelters by providing them with gifts that they would otherwise go without.

How you can help

For the Christmas Drive we urge people to visit our website ( and pledge boxes in the following categories:

  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Puppy
  • Kitten

Thereafter, people can choose where and when they would like to drop off their box from a selection of pre-determined drop-off points.

Each box that is pledged needs to have the following five items:

  • TWO things yummy (food AND a treat)
  • Something warm (blanket or jersey)
  • Something useful (stainless steel bowl, dewormer, collar, etc.)
  • Something fun (toy for cat/dog)

In addition, we ask that people place an item in the box for the people working at the shelter to thank them for all their hard and tiring work. Although this is not mandatory, it really does make a difference to those who perform an often thankless task.

We also accept financial donations and have an online pledge system that allows people to choose what they want their funds to be used for, such as sterilisations or food.

We run auctions, raise funds through raffles, hold events and sell Christmas decorations to raise funds for the animals. And, although it only happens one season a year, we are constantly working on ways to better the project and are involved in it throughout the year (whilst managing our full-time jobs and home lives). 

You can get involved by pledging on our website and liking our Facebook page: Santa Cause for Paws People can also sponsor prizes for our auctions and spread the word to friends and family. SMS donations are also welcome – SMS the words: DONATE SANTA to 40580 to donate R20.

If you would like to make a donation, please pledge via our website so we can allocate your funds appropriately. Alternatively, please EFT (no in-bank deposits) to:

FNB Cheque
Account Number: 62267139767
Branch: Cresta 254 905
Reference: name +area

Clair hands over Santa Cause for Paws goodies to Kloof SPCA

Santa Cause for Paws handover to Pug Rescue