Gary Martin Enjoys Giving Shoes, Other Gifts To Spanish Town StudentsNovember 4, 2022
The joy of putting smiles on people’s faces is what has been fueling the philanthropic drive in Gary Martin, better known as Stiff.
He grew up in poverty in a section of Spanish Town known as Job’s Lane, and attended Crescent Primary School, Friendship Primary, and St. John’s Primary – all in the St Catherine capital.
“During my childhood, life was very rough. We were very poor. It was my mom with eight kids. Dad was absent, but things worked out…” Martin said.
He added: “Whatever I needed for school sometimes I don’t have it and so sometimes I had to get that from friends… One of the things I always say to myself is, if I happen to be successful in life, I am going to do the best I can for others who don’t have it…”
Martin, who migrated to the United States in October 1991, started giving back nine years later to the less fortunate in his community.
“I started giving back to my community and I used to do it without anyone knowing I was the person behind it,” he said. “I was told by a friend, ‘You need to advertise it and let people know what you are doing’. I thought about it because I am not one who wants people to know that it’s coming from me.”
Among the items donated were clothes and school supplies. The funding of those products was done mostly from Martin’s pocket.
That resulted in the establishment of Gary Stiff Martin Organization in 2000.
Martin later collaborated with Sunday Morning Kickers of Miramar based in Florida as well as Give Back Jamaica Inc,. which is a group of past students of Crescent Primary School located in Spanish Town.
Martin’s group, as well as Give Back Jamaica Inc. whose president is Hopeton Brown, focus mainly on primary school students.
Martin said the reason for that is “to save children from being a menace to society”.
His group’s donation of things such as tablets and books initially began at Crescent Primary in November 2020.
The success of the venture at that institution prompted Martin, along with members of the other organizations, to spread the cheers to Friendship Primary and St. John’s Primary, which are also situated in Spanish Town.
Martin’s dream is to spread it to as many primary schools as possible across Jamaica.
Donations are done mainly in August and September of each year so that needy students will be better prepared for the re-opening of school. That, by no means, detracts from other times when the need arises.
In November 2020, Martin donated books and tablets to students of Crescent Primary and St. John’s Primary, as well as his Job’s Lane community.
He, in January 2021, donated tablets to students living in his community.
On his birthday, March 10, 2021, Martin did another round of tablet distribution to students in his community.
Two months later, he had the pleasure of donating tablets to Friendship Primary School.
That school also got 10 bags and two laptop computers from him in July 2022 as well as 25 pairs of shoes in September 2022.
“When I give somebody something, it must be of quality. It must last them. If I am buying a pair of shoes, I buy a nice pair of shoes. If I am giving you a bag, it’s a nice bag. If I can’t give something of quality, I don’t give… I don’t give hand-down stuff either. It has to be brand new,” Martin noted.
In the meantime, Principal of Friendship Primary, Collington Powell, was filled with gratitude for the gifts.
In relation to the shoes donated, he said they positively impacted students who, at the beginning of the school year, “didn’t get new shoes or had shoes that were of poor quality”.
Powell encouraged other past students: “Find creative ways to give back to the school. Think outside the box. Look at what you can give because the school makes use of everything.”
Reflecting on the contributions he has made, Martin beamed pride and joy.
He also underscored the importance of accountability. “Whenever anyone gives me money to do anything, I do my presentations and I send pictures. If I buy anything, I send pictures and let them know this is what was done with the money. Also, I tell them when I am going to do the presentations. That’s why I take a lot of pictures of anything that I am doing. At least you see where your money is going and you don’t have to second guess…”
Asked how he eventually would like to be remembered, Martin told The Beacon: “I want to leave a legacy behind. I want to be remembered as a person who loves to give, contribute to education, youths, poor people, and people that need help because I always go out of my way and do things for them. I like to be anonymous. If I find out that someone needs something, I will get someone to drop it off at their house… I want to be remembered as a person who is always giving.”
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