This holiday season, the Sandals Foundation is celebrating its love for Caribbean families by helping some of the most vulnerable meet their needs. In what can be described as an aptly titled fundraising campaign, Here For You, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International has raised and commenced the distribution of care packages to benefit some 600 families across the region
The activities are being executed in addition to its annual Christmas toy distribution, and are aimed at bringing hope to families that are facing challenges exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“There is no doubt that so many families across the world have endured tremendous challenges this past year and it has been no different here in the Caribbean. This is our home, our people and it is, therefore, our duty to continue playing our part and share a sense of hope to those in our communities who need it most, said Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International and President of the Sandals Foundation.
Tourism is the largest economic driver in the Caribbean directly and indirectly impacting more than two million people. While the region has been one of the best performing in its management of the virus, its fragile tourism dependent economies have experienced significant disruptions.
“We know that the income stream for many families have been reduced or completely disrupted, so for this holiday season, it was especially important for us to ensure that we work closely with our team members and local partners to purchase and distribute care packages, food vouchers, groceries and hot meals to support as many individuals and families as we can,” said Stewart.
To date, partners have included Rotary Clubs, local grocers, entertainment management companies, support service organisation, and outreach group.
In the Montego Bay region Christmas treats were conducted by team members from Sandals Montego Bay Sandals Royal Caribbean in the communities of Canterbury, White House, Flankers, Green Pond and Providence Heights. Some elderly persons at Flankers were also presented with care packages.
“We are really pleased at the effort the Sandals Foundation placed in order for our community to have a Merry Christmas,” noted Alecia Spence, one of the administrators of the Flankers Peace and Justice Centre. “Both the kids and the elderly felt uplifted by the efforts of the Foundation.“
Candice Brown, a member of the Flankers community said she was happy to receive a care package. “God bless the Sandals Foundation. This will help to make me have a merry Christmas.”
This year’s broadened care package support to vulnerable families adds to the philanthropic organization’s annual Christmas toy distribution that has been a staple event for children across Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Grenada, and Barbados.
For ten years, through its longstanding partnership with American Toy Company, Hasbro, more than 100,000 fun and educational toys have been donated to children ages 3 to 7 years, making the holidays even more special. This year, through careful logistical coordination in line with health and safety protocols, Sandals and Beaches Resorts team members and partners will carefully distribute more than 10,000 toys to homes, schools, community organisations and more.
“We are incredibly grateful to our partners at Hasbro who have helped us to continue to make the season even more special for children across the Caribbean and we are grateful to our team members who never skip a beat to get these gifts into the hands of so many young boys and girls,” said Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at Sandals Foundation.
“It’s all about celebrating the Caribbean family with a spirit of gratitude and love,” Clarke continued, “Bringing joy and hope in any way we can and letting them know we are here for you”.
It was all smiles and grand receptions from students and teachers in Westmoreland and Hanover when the Sandals Foundation brought the wind of an early Christmas spirit in the form of toys, snack packages, and school supplies to the different institutions. Boys and girls were eager to collect their treats and take quick pictures with the volunteers from Sandals and Beaches Negril, also dubbed ‘Santa’s elves’. The Christmas treat this year saw up to 20 volunteers daily, journeying to the schools to show the students that Christmas can still be merry even in a pandemic.
Similar treats were carried out in the Ocho Rios and White House region in Jamaica.