Two hundred and forty care packages valued at more than $600,000 have been distributed to the families of needy students who attend the Chalky Hill Primary and Infant School in St. Ann, and to vulnerable residents of the community.
The school’s administration, through an initiative with its alumni, distributed the care packages to assist persons in the Chalky Hill community who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The packages included canned foods, flour, rice, cornmeal, sugar, cooking oil, coconut powder, kidney beans, noodles, juice and toiletries.
Principal of the institution, Christine Badal-McBean, said the donations were made possible after an appeal was made to help students and other community members who were facing financial hardships.
She said the first round of distribution, which took place on April 28, catered to students who are on the government’s welfare initiative – the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
“We understood that the children that were on our PATH listing were really on the programme because of circumstances, so our first round of care packages were given to them,” Badal-McBean noted.
She said the second round of distribution benefited students who were not on PATH, as well as the elderly and shut-ins.
During the third round, the distributors went into the community – assisting mainly families who have young children.
The principal stated that plans are afoot to undertake another distribution drive in July, and a back-to-school fair in August to help parents prepare for the 2020/2021 academic year.
She lauded the past students for their generosity ‘during these trying times’, adding that the school’s Secretary and several teachers played an integral role in packaging the food items for distribution.
“I want to let the past students know that we are really appreciative of the partnership. During this time for us as a school, we know that the education [of our students] is important, but we also understand how important it is that we meet the basic needs of our students,” she added.
Public Relations Officer of the Chalky Hill Primary and Infant School Alumni, Cynthia Smith Woolery, said she was pleased to have partnered with past students overseas to provide immediate assistance to persons in need.
“They came up with some money; it was sent to me and I transferred it to the school account. I realised that there were a lot of people from the Chalky Hill area who lost their jobs because they worked in the tourism industry. As a result of that, it was important for them to get the help – especially the kids,” she said.
Meanwhile, one of the parents who benefited, Verona Harriot, described the gesture as ‘timely’, noting that she had fallen on hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She has two children attending the primary school.
“During this COVID-19 period, it has been difficult, so we really appreciate what the school has done for us. It came at the right time when we were deeply in need. I really felt happy, and I thank the Chalky Hill Primary school and others for what they have done,” the mother further said.
Editorial Note: The information in this story is provided by the Jamaica Information Service
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