Bread Tags the Unlikely Helpers

As school children or parents we have all probably had a request or two for bread tags, so someone somewhere can get a wheelchair. Once informed what bread tags are and that we all have them, excitement of course ensued about the prospect of making a difference to the life of an underprivileged and disabled person. But what really happens to these tags? Where do they go and how do they get turned into wheelchairs?

These were things on the mind of Mary Honeybun from Fishoek when asked to collect bread tags for her grandchildren’s school. She investigated and found that in most cases nothing much came of the projects. But her interest was sparked and upon retirement she had time to do it herself.

“It’s a very time consuming operation, but I just have to think of the people who are desperately in need of wheels – one little boy said it’s like having a new bicycle. Another aspect is that we’re keeping the tags out of the environment and teaching young children to recycle.”

Mary gets her tags from schools and churches in the community and also has ladies in Worchester and Jeffrey’s Bay, and a family in East London collecting tags for her. With the help of three close friends, tags are washed and if they arrive with bits of paper attached to them, this is soaked off in floor stripper. They then get laid out on towels to dry and at the end of an average month, when half a ton has been collected; a recycler buys them and turns them into seedling and germination trays.

These proceeds are enough to purchase two wheelchairs for pre-selected individuals in the Western Cape and South Africa. Apart from wheelchairs, walking frames are also bought for children with Cerebral Palsy.

“I work through occupational therapists and other professionals who can assess the patients’ needs. It’s very important that the right wheelchair is given to a patient, as they have different needs.”

And what does this 78-year old granny with a heart of gold want in return? A picture of the recipients with their appliances.

“These are the people we help. Getting that feedback and seeing the happy faces is what motivates me.”

Since 2008 Mary has received 392 of these pictures and is nearing her target of having provided 400 appliances by the end of the year.

Should you decide to help Bread Tags for Wheelchairs reach this target by collecting bread tags in your area, you would be certain to receive the hand written thank-you note Mary sends all the contributors. In order to collect more tags, they also want to set up a website. Although they have had a domain sponsor, they still require someone to build the site for them.

This is Mary’s story of help. To read more stories like these, visit If you would like to help:

Mary Honeybun

(t) 021 789 1831

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