Like father, like son.
Mark Demetrius, the Manager of Dixon’s Drug Store in Linstead, St. Catherine, is proudly retracing his father’s footsteps in ensuring that the company remains an epitome of good corporate social responsibility.
“It is something that we have been doing for a long time, coming from my father, Hugh Demetrius. What I am doing is really a continuation of what he used to do,” the son said.
He noted that most of the company’s benevolence does not make the headlines, because he prefers to give in silence.
One of the initiatives that is only now coming to public attention is a breakfast feeding programme, which Dixon’s started recently at some 10 schools in and around Linstead.
“I am very happy that, as a business, we could make that contribution because we have benefited significantly from the community,” Demetrius told The Beacon.
He explained that the breakfast programme has been halted because schools have been closed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
As a result of the closure, classes are now being held online. But several students have been unable to access those classes partly due to the lack of reliable internet and the unavailability of gadgets such as tablets.
Demetrius, who has two children in primary school, said he can relate to the challenges resulting from the sudden switch from face-to-face learning to online classes.
That is among the factors that prompted him to intervene.
He and his team initially went on a mission to make internet available for students in remote communities.
They however discovered that, even with internet access, several students were being left behind because they did not have the gadgets required to participate in online classes.
“What we found is that, at each school, the common observation was that the students were suffering because they were unable to afford the devices,” Demetrius said.
In light of that challenge, Demetrius and his team, so far, bought eight tablets and two computers, using funds that otherwise would have been channeled into the Dixon’s Drug Store breakfast programme for schools.
Demetrius stated that the devices were distributed through schools and other community organizations.
They include Charlemont High School, Enid Bennett High, Rosemount Primary, Victoria Primary, the Ewarton JBI Alumina Community Council Benevolent Society, and the Linstead Community Development Committee (Linstead CDC).
Principal of Rosemount Primary, Malaika Sinclair-Bailey, expressed gratitude for the various contributions that Dixon’s Drug Store has been making to the school.
“This tablet initiative is one such way that Dixon’s pharmacy would have helped a child in this period of the COVID-19 pandemic where many students are disadvantaged. Not only are they catering to the health of our nation, but they are also catering to the academic health by helping a child with a tablet,” she added.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Ruby Tenn, First Vice President of the Linstead CDC.
“It is a great great initiative,” she emphatically told The Beacon. “Mr. Demetrius is doing a wonderful job – not just for the CDC alone. I can speak for other schools, entities, and individuals who he has been donating tablets and other gadgets to. He works very close with us, and we can always rely on him.”
Principal of Victoria Primary, Annette Steel, joined in lauding Dixon’s Drug Store for constantly trying to make a big difference.
She said the tablet, which Dixon’s donated to her school, was given to a single mother who has two children attending the institution.
“The mother has two children coming to the school, and it was really a challenge for her… She told me that the tablet has been helping, and the children are now able to access online learning,” the principal said.
She added that Victoria Primary is among schools that benefit from the breakfast programme sponsored by Dixon’s Drug Store.
The principal said Demetrius and his staff, on Labour Day last year, also painted a pedestrian crossing that is often used by the students.
In the meantime, Demetrius said he is pleased with the contribution his pharmacy is making although it does not have unlimited funds.
“When we have this type of crisis (COVID-19), it makes us feel good to know that we are privileged and able to give back at this time,” he further commented. “Part of what we are doing now is making sure that the generation that is coming up won’t be at a disadvantage.”
Demetrius also urged other companies and individuals in the Linstead area to join forces and help especially students struggling with schooling amid COVID-19.
“If you can take out $2,000 and come together with another five people and give a child a device, that can be the difference between them progressing or regressing,” he reasoned. “Those are the things that are supposed to be motivating businesses and individuals to contribute especially in Linstead. There are many businesses that can do it.”
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