How you can help

We would like your help...

Patients at State hospitals and clinics in South Africa are typically destitute, malnourished, as well as being very sick or injured. Many are jobless, many are homeless, and many have no loved-ones to provide the basic needs for them in hospital.

The Ruth Mailbag Group strives to provide for the needs of destitute moms and babies in the maternity and NICU of our local state hospital and several other hospitals in our country who have asked for our help by providing them with a basic baby pack for their new and or sick babies.

If you can assist please get in touch with us through or visit our blog at for more information.

Yours sincerely,
Joy Coetzee
Founder – The Ruth Mailbag Group

Or a hospital near you... please, browse through the following list, I’m sure you will find a government hospital near you to support:
Contact Details of Public Hospitals in South Africa -
Eastern Cape -
Gauteng Province -
Johannesburg -
KZN -;
Port Elizabeth -
Western Cape -

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Project for Boarder Moms on National Women's Day 2013

After seeing firsthand the difficult circumstances of boarder moms at our government hospitals, I would like to suggest that while working and caring for the babies, we also work and care for the boarder moms, too. They have basic needs as all women in hospital do and I would like to provide some of these small items for them when I visit to help make their lives a little easier and more comfortable, e.g. combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet soap, hand/body lotion/creams (any size from samples), face cloths/sponges, hand towels, and bed socks/slippers.  I gift an average 24 moms each time I visit them.

TO SEND DONATED ITEMS TO: THE RUTH MAILBAG GROUP, "For charity - NO retail value", C/o FOTO FIRST, 180 MURCHISON STREET, LADYSMITH 3370, SOUTH AFRICA; on or before 9 August for National Women's Day, please.

Contact -; Fax 086 516 4618;

Sunday, 28 July 2013

100% wool.

If a pattern requires 100% wool, please substitute with acrylic yarn in the equivalent thickness (ply).

Many people are allergic to wool.

We need yarn that is wash and wear friendly under ALL circumstances.

Thank you!!!

Saturday, 27 July 2013



Please forward this newsletter to your online family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances! They'll appreciate your thoughtfulness and I will too! Thank you.


Much of the information contained in this newsletter you may have heard before but as we have a steady flow of new members joining us I would like to ask you to please be patient as once again I am sharing general information with everybody.  There is much however that is new and more and more members are sharing snippets with us, so you will find something to read if you have already been with this group long enough to ‘have heard it all before’, look on it as a refresher course, please!


First and foremost a very BIG thank you to the following generous folk for their support of our cause: Allyson Johnston, Australia; Alta Scheepers; Ann Hailstone, UK; Anonymous; Barbara UK and family; Belinda van den Berg; Carol Bower, England; Colleen Raciborska; Deborah Jackson, UK; Doreen Brits, family and friends; Gail Rozendaal; Gerty Kotze; Joan de Pindray; Knit a square; Ladysmith Gazette; Ladysmith Methodist WA; Looklocal Germiston; Margaret Wood, UK; Marion Short, England; Meisie Foster; Mirinda Claassen, Phyllis Botha, Sinoville; Renate Dunham; Rosemary Earp Jones; Rosemary Jones, Scotland; Rosemary Powell; Sharen Rosen, UK; Springs Advertiser; The Ladysmith Herald; The Witness


On Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM, Snoeks Desmond <> wrote:  A friend, Valie Moore, and I have knitted beanies from small to ones fitting a five year old.  These have been taken to Creighton where another friend, Debbie is making sure some go to St Apollinaris Hospital at Centocow and the bigger ones to a support group for children with disabilities. Thanks for keeping us inspired, Snoeks Desmond


On Sun, Jul 14, 2013 at 8:48 AM, bianca goodison <> wrote: Penny is an American friend of mine who has a ministry in HIV/AIDS.  She is the director of New Jerusalem Mission in the States and the director of Ukukhanya life care centre (AIDS hospice) in a township outside of Durban.  She's also a trustee of Siyathemba.  The area where the hospice is in SA is an area with many child headed households (orphans) and she have been doing annual camps where she takes up to 100 of these children (age 8 to about 16) for a few days for 100% Jesus input.  They do art therapy, games, praise and worship; have times to tell their stories and sports etc.  She has just finished this year's camp.  However, blankets, and good quality second hand clothes are always welcome to these kids.  She spends most of the year in the US, but one of her board members, Paul Bowden, has contact with the hospice where they oversee a lot of the orphans, and the orphans know them well.  Any post for this is best sent directly to Paul, as currently, it is not so easy for me to get stuff to them. I know anything for these kids would be greatly appreciated!  His address, Paul Bowden, 55 Sentinel Ave, Greenwood Park, Durban, SA, 4051.  Blessings, Bianca Birdsey, Mosvold Hospital,  MBChB (UCT),  083 368 6080.  (You can also visit the web site at: )


On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 8:08 AM, Karen Clark <> wrote:

We have received so many donations as a result of the Ruth Mailbag Group. In fact we receive a constant trickle of baby hats and blankets and little baby clothes, directly as a result of your efforts. We would like to thank you all for your time and your generosity that goes into making this happen. The babies born at Busfare Babies Birth Centre go home well clad for the first 6 months of life, which does a lot to keep them warm and keep them healthy during these important first months. 

Also a big thank you to Joy Coetzee for your persistence and constant flow of emails who keeps reminding us of what we can do to help.

Thank you, with much appreciation, Karen (midwife)

Karen Clark, 082 7763622,,
(Photos uploaded to our facebook page.)


On Mon, Jul 22, 2013, Jennifer Clarke wrote: Beanies going to Karl Bremmer today…  (Photo uploaded to our facebook page.)


On Tues, Jul 23, 2013, <> wrote: Thank you for your email - we are already making items for new born babies and Port Shepstone Hospital is receiving these items. Regards, Diane Stead.


From: Ndlela Nontobeko []; Sent: 26 July 2013 08:18 AM; Subject: RE: August 2013 - King Edward VIII Hospital: Thank you kindly, since your first communication, the response has been amazing. Even the retired senior citizens bring their handmade blankets, jerseys, hoods, socks, etc, we are so appreciative.

PROJECTS TO HONOUR THE NEW PRINCE!!! Kate and William have asked for donations to charity...

[Cheerful-Hearts-and-Hands] New Prince project :) Bev wrote: Tada!!!  Preemie hats to honour the new little Prince of Cambridge.  He was definitely not a preemie or even very little, but, I heard it said that the royal family would love it if we donated to our favourite children's charity to honour the new baby.  So... I created this page with a preemie hat pattern and my own personal challenge.  Would love it if some of you wanted to join me in making some preemie hats for your local hospitals!!
Make it a lovely day today! Bev Q

Red, white and blue designs for the little prince:

Also look at these projects: - If you prefer to knit singlets for your chosen hospital, go right ahead they will be much appreciated by the moms and babies who are gifted. - I will suggest that you knit for your own hospital and gift the premature babies born there with a beautiful little preemie hat.  Pretty patterns included on this link.

YOU item still causing ‘waves’ –


On Tues, Jul 23, 2013, Heila Jooste <> wrote: I saw the pattern for baby beanies in the “huisgenoot” magazine a while ago and decided to knit a few.  I would like to mail it to you so that you can distribute it as you see fit.  Please let me have your postal address. Kind Regards.




Saturday, 06 July 2013: Gifted to Siyathemba via Gail Rozendaal, 50 hats, vests and long-sleeved sweaters.  Thank you Knit-a-Square and Ronda Lowrie, Derlon and Helen for making this gift possible, your support is much appreciated.


Sunday, 07 July 2013:  Gifted 19 premature babies, 11 Newborn babies, 18 Boarder moms and 3 Kangaroo care moms; everybody absolutely delighted with their presents, kids on Christmas morning!  Thank you Barbara for your assistance and glad to see that you also enjoyed the visit.  BIG thank you to all who contributed in any way towards these gifts, your support is much appreciated by us and all the moms and their babies.

Sunday, 14 July 2013:  Gifted 15 newborn and 27 premature babies; everybody absolutely delighted with their presents!  A past pupil from the school where I work found me, she is a boarder mom of a tiny premature baby girl, as I got to her bedside she looked up, smiled and said, “Hello Tannie Coetzee…”, very special and very sad when I find our past learners on my visits I always wish them enough and more.  Big thank you to all who contributed in any way towards these gifts, your support is much appreciated by us and especially the moms and their babies.



This information is provided as advance warning of projects that will be coming up; this is especially for our overseas members:

Appeal for Basic Toiletry Items, bed socks, etc for Boarder Moms
August – Spring Day for the Babies (items to welcome Spring!)
September – September Babies (remember that Spring is in the air!)
October – Prematurity Awareness Month (to concentrate on premature items from 1 kg and upwards)
November – Christmas presents for babies and moms
December – New Year Babies – Presents for babies and moms


Patterns to Get You Going, You May Also Use Any Pattern of Your Own Choice:


Some Items You May Like To Refer To On The Ruth Mailbag Group Blog:




Combs; Toothbrushes; Toothpaste; Soap – Baby & Mom; Vaseline/Barrier Cream; Face cloths/sponges – Baby & Mom; Towels – Hand & Baby

Receiving Blankets; Baby Blankets; Diaper Pins; Cloth Diapers; Gowns/Sleepers/Babygros; Infant Socks/Bootees/Hats; Sweaters/Jackets. (Preferable sizes Premature/Tiny baby/Newborn/0 to 3 months/1 -3 months). (New / very good quality second hand / handmade).


DOMESTIC PARCEL SERVICE & DOMESTIC PARCEL RATES (non regulated tariffs subject to change)


Ordinary parcel - An ordinary parcel is any postal item that is bigger than 353 x 250 x 30mm and/or weighs more than 1kg. The maximum length is 1m and the length plus girth may not be more than 2m. The domestic counter-to-counter parcel service (ordinary parcel) is the most economical way to send a parcel. Customers can send parcels from any Post Office counter to any other Post Office

Counter in the country.   Ordinary parcel (counter to counter) R35.10 for the first kg R 4.70 for each additional kg or part of a kg


Econoparcel - An Econoparcel is a parcel that is not bigger than 458 x 324 x 100mm and does not weigh more than 1kg.  Econoparcel R21.50.




Each week our group gifts up to 40 newborn and premature babies at the state hospital.  In these baby packs we place basic items for the baby’s well being e.g. creams, lotions, clothing, and a little something for the mom, too, as the vast majority of the mothers who give birth to their babies at the state hospital are destitute these small personal gifts are a treasure.  The moms are most appreciative of the assistance we give them.  All gifts are given free of any charge and that is why we have to solicit donations to support our cause.  Please help us if at all possible.




What size do I knit?

Don't put too much emphasis on trying to perfect the size of a preemie garment. There is a great variation between premature baby sizes that an item of any size should be suitable for at least one baby. As a general guide premature babies head circumference is approximately the same as their chest circumference. The average prem baby's chest measurements are 8"-14". However clothes of all sizes are required for preemies, so no matter how big or small your item is it will most likely fit at least one baby.  (Large preemie is recommended as the babies are seldom dressed in the Unit and the moms use these garments when they go home.)


Which colours do I choose?

Pastel colours are the most popular but in Africa they appreciate colour and the brighter the colours the better they like them. Apart from the obviously baby pinks and blues other colours which may be used are: Lemon, Cream, White, Mint green, Peach, Lilac and Aqua.


How do I know which yarn to use?

Premature babies have very delicate skin and can often be allergic to wool; therefore it is best to avoid garments made with a wool mix. Acrylic yarn is more suitable when knitting for preemies. Ideal yarn to use for preemie knits is baby double knit or 4ply yarn. Most preemie patterns will use these.


Do I need special fastenings?

Plain flat half-inch buttons are best to use for fastening. Avoid nylon and metal fastenings, as they get very hot under the incubator heaters. Do not use Velcro as a fastening, it is very scratchy on the hook side and also damages knitted garments when they are laundered. Ease of dressing is vital for preemies and as a general rule it is best not to use ribbon as a fastening as ribbon can often be fussy to tie on a garment so small.


What do I choose to knit?



These are the most frequently used preemie clothing. V-Necks or round necks are the best to knit for 'give' and ease of dressing. Cuffs and shoulders should have plenty of 'give' to help make dressing easy. Stretchy knits such as garter stitch work best as they provide the necessary 'give'.



Prem baby knitting charities usually appreciate blankets. Avoid lacy patterns or blankets with large holes in can be dangerous for little fingers. The popular granny square is not too holey and quite safe.



The best type is the ventilator hat as they allow the babies to have head scans without removing the hat. Keep the designs simple and preferably without any ties and fastenings. Beanies are also great!



Garter stitch is the best to use for booties as it is stretchy which makes it easier to put the booties on. It is better to knit shaping at the ankle to provide grip rather than use tie or cords.  If necessary cast on or off with a larger needle to give stretch at the top of the sock/bootie!!!


POSTAL INSTRUCTIONS (these can be applied to the government hospitals across the country, too.)

CUSTOMS DUTY - VERY IMPORTANT: We would ask you to take special notice of these instructions to avoid unnecessary duty being paid on your parcels as they arrive in South Africa.

Please mark clearly: No Commercial Value - For Charity Only.

Please do not register your letters, parcels, packages or boxes.

Please do not give a monetary value on your parcels (or only the minimum amount as instructed by your post office)

Please do use your good old post office unless you do not have one; it has come to our attention that the customs paid to couriers is higher than that paid at the post office

We have to pay minimal duty on most large parcels arriving. However even just a small monetary value on a parcel attracts far higher duties. Letters, parcels, packages and boxes continue to arrive safely in volumes without any registration or monetary values appended to them.

MOISTURE FREE - Wrap your crocheted, knitted and sewn items in a plastic bag, bubble wrap or by postal bags with an inner plastic coating to keep them moisture proof. Tape your parcels well.

POSTAL ADDRESS - Address all your post to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, “No Commercial Value - For Charity Only”, C/o Foto First, 180 Murchison Street, Ladysmith 3370, South Africa.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT - Please add a note with your name and email address so that I may acknowledge your parcel.  Thank you for your support!




1. It is time for your "roll call" where you can let the group know how you are doing, share suggestions, just let us know what you are working on for the group/our babies/what is happening at your hospital, group, etc, or just say "hello"...

2. Please send photos if you have some to share...




“Baby it is cold outside” and getting colder and colder...  we urgently need baby blankets for the babies born at the local State hospital...  these moms and their babies come mostly from informal settlements where the accommodation is probably a shack, cold, draughty and leaks.  Please help us warm these babies NOW!  Our stock of blankets is depleted and there is still a while to go before the seasons change.  Please send your blankets, bought, knitted, crocheted, sewn, loomed, second hand good quality... to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, “For charity, NOT for sale”, C/o Foto First, 180 Murchison Street, Ladysmith 3370.  Thank you, for helping the babies of our community!!!




Everyone is invited to share a favourite scripture, quote, inspirational story or personal testimony with the group.


There is enough sadness in this world, this group exists to eliminate some of those tears with the warm items we make, and here in our own little group with the uplifting things we say.  Let's encourage each other!


Never forget the power of one...


The Starfish Story
Guest Author - Deanna Joseph
adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley
1907 - 1977


Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.


One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.


As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.


He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"


The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."


"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.


To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."


Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"


At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"




1st Saturday of the month
February through December
14h00 – 16h00
Juana Maria Home, Francis Road, Ladysmith, KZN
Thank you, Juana Maria, for your hospitality!
Bring your charity knitting, crocheting, & sewing; Any yarn and or patterns to swap, etc.
January - in recess!
See you there!!!




Thank you for your interest in joining the growing list of wonderful contributors of The Ruth Mailbag Group. We're so thankful for you!

To continue our work, we need lots and lots of goodies! They can be bought, good quality second hand, newly knitted, crocheted or stitched with a sewing machine or by hand. We have FREE patterns for all types of items on our patterns pages. Please feel free to use any pattern that you are comfortable with.


We will be working on a steady stream of needy causes and people. And we are so thankful for your generosity.


Promote The Ruth Mailbag Group on your blogs, websites, newsletters, knitting, sewing and quilting groups.



Travel size toiletries for moms, Hotel Toiletries that you've collected during your travels, Toiletry bags (big or small) for personal care kits, Filled toiletry Bags, New or handmade facecloths, Hair brush/comb, Toiletries for babies/moms, Nappies – fabric or disposable (premature/newborn), Nappy pins/Snappis, Plastic pants (premature/newborn), Blankets (large premature/new-born), Clothes for premature/new-born, Toys that are age appropriate, Cotton fabrics, Towelling, Fleece, Flannel, Yarn (3 ply/4 ply/double knitting - soft), Spools of thread, Ribbons, Trims, Buttons, Gift Cards, Large Clear Plastic Storage Containers with Lids, Become a Fan on Facebook by clicking "Like" at the top of the facebook page, If a Facebook Fan, please "suggest" to your Facebook friends, Tell everyone that you know about the Ruth Mailbag Group.


All donations can be sent to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, “For Charity – NO Retail Value”, C/o Foto First, 180 Murchison Street, Ladysmith 3370, South Africa


Please be sure and include a business card or a note with your name and or business and email address so that we can credit you for your contribution. It's a big deal to us and we like to give you proper thanks.


Thank you for helping us warm hearts and bodies.


Please join the Ruth Mailbag Group today by writing Email: / Fax: 086 516 4618 and telling us how you can help. Help us warm the hearts and bodies of women, children, babies, elderly and shelter animals in need. You will be helping make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.


If you still have not found a hospital nearby, please, browse through the following lists, I’m sure you will find a government hospital near your work, your home or your favourite shopping centre to support:


Thank you, Trish Beaver of the Witness, for a very nice article about our babies!  My dream is to see a group similar to ours in every town, village and city across the country helping their own community (there are needy moms and babies at every government hospital in this country).  You will find the article at the following link:[_id]=103653.


On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 8:49 AM, <> wrote: I just read the article in The Natal Witness about what you do. I am so impressed.
Please if you can fax me the patterns I will try to knit for you and hopefully rope in some of my friends... 
Please keep me informed of your lovely work.

I cannot get you ladies out of my mind. You are so giving and selfless. May God bless you.
Love, Rabia Karim


On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM, Edna Rudder <> wrote: I have just read the piece in the Witness  re “The Ruth Mailbag Women’, and would like to enquire where I could leave some little Woolen Vests that I have been given to distribute to newly born. This is a mammoth task that you ladies are performing and I guess there is a huge call for these. 


On Mon, Jul 22, 2013, GESHY REDDY <> wrote: I read the article in the Natal Witness. How can I help in my own little way? Geshy


On Tues, Jul 23, 2013, David wrote: Brenda phoned me early yesterday to say that she’d seen your photo in the Witness.  She was very excited, and didn’t want me to miss it.  So, having found a Witness, I enjoyed the article too.  Congratulations!

I knew about your project, but it was good to see it so well and thoroughly described, and to see some faces associated with your work.  I think Trish Beaver did a very good job.  Was it pure coincidence that the article appeared on Baby Cambridge’s birthday?  All very appropriate.

I agree entirely with your policy of ‘not getting involved’ – why do women who can’t afford to raise one child have two or three?  Why are so many schoolgirls falling pregnant?  Those are important questions, but not for you to answer.  That is someone else’s responsibility.  I think your approach is very sensible.

So, you help to welcome the babies into the world.

Please convey my congratulations to your helpers in your project.  I hope their sense of satisfaction and fulfilment is great, and that their blessings will be abundant.

God bless you all.


On Tues, Jul 23, 2013, Yvonne Kidd <> wrote: It’s great! The article and photos are wonderful! Well done! Thank you, Yvonne Kidd


On Tues, Jul 23, 2013, Doreen Brits <> wrote: Thank you for sending me the article, Trish wrote it very well. Enjoy jour day. Blessings, Doreen


On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM, Stacey Henry <> wrote:

Good morning. I have read an article about how your group cares for premature infants n newborns, I am interested. Are there any hospitals in my area where I could get involved? I live in Pietermaritzburg & am a teacher n have a love for children and babies.


On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM, LISA BILLINGE <> wrote:

I read an article in the Natal Witness on Monday, 22 July 2013 about the Ruth Mailbag Group in Ladysmith and the wonderful work you do by donating baby’s clothes to the Ladysmith Government Hospital.

Please could you advise me as to how I can contribute/participate/assist?

Many thanks, Lisa


PHOTOS – Please remember that all photos received are uploaded on our facebook page.  Please visit our page to see what our members are doing and sharing.

Thank you in advance for your support!


Yours in charity crafting,

Joy Coetzee


The Ruth Mailbag Group


CONTACT DETAILS: Fax 086 516 4618; Email


RELATED LINKS:;;!forum/the-ruth-mailbag-;;