COMMUNITY FOCUS: Past students help hundreds who attend Jose Marti

Past students of Jose Marti Technical High School in St. Catherine have helped hundreds of current students impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, and are planning to further extend their benevolence.

The group already distributed 200 care packages to students, said Alexander Shaw, an attorney-at-law who is now President of the Jose Marti Past Students Association.

He said the association also handed over a microwave and a refrigerator to the school’s Welfare Department.

“Some of our parents have expressed financial hardship resulting from COVID-19, preventing them from finding lunch money. So the microwave and the refrigerator are to preserve students’ lunches and to get them warm for consumption,” Shaw explained.

He said the initiative, which raised $332,000, was a joint effort by the local association and its overseas chapters, including the Jose Marti Alumni Association (New York Chapter) and the Canadian Chapter.

The Wisynco Group of Companies also donated goods.

A team, headed by the school’s Guidance Counsellor Ann-Marie McKenzie, did the distribution of the packages.

Shaw, who expressed gratitude to the various contributors, told The Beacon that other fundraising initiatives are in the offing to help more Jose Marti students.

“We want other past students to know of the work we are doing, so that we can raise some funds to make available 10 grants for tertiary students this September. We are aiming to raise at least $2 million for tertiary grants for students starting colleges and universities in September of 2020,” he further said.

Shaw, who assumed leadership of the association in May, noted that the association’s annual reunion where funds are usually raised, had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That prompted the association to publicly appeal for donations from past students.

The response was relatively good, resulting in the association doubling the number of students it initially intended to supply with care packages, which contained various food items.


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