Corporate responsibility was put on show yesterday as the West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO), in association with the Ewarton Joint Community Council, hosted a massive back-to-school fair for hundreds of children who will return to school next month.

Students from an estimated 20 communities around the plant benefited from the annual back-to-school event, which was held at WINDALCO’s sports Complex in the Ewarton area of St Catherine.

They did medicals and dentals, basked in various recreational activities, and accessed the services of entities such as the Registrar General’s Department, HEART Trust, and St Catherine Health Department.

The event organizers, who also distributed a range of stationery and book vouchers, said another treat will be held this month in the Moneague area of St Ann, targeting communities around WINDALCO’s mining operation.

“We will, at the end of all this, spend close to $4 million just for the back to school fairs,” said Community Relations Administrator at WINDALCO, Winston Watson, who noted that the company is also spending close to $10 million on scholarships in the upcoming academic year.

Watson, elaborating on the fair held yesterday, told The Beacon: “We had close to 500 or more people passing through; we tried to make sure that the services were wide-scaleā€¦ By and large, I would say that it is a major success. We will continue to do things like these to offset the challenges being met by the people in our communities.”

Residents who benefited from the fair, in the meantime, lauded WINDALCO’s goodwill.

“The event was very good. I get a good deal; I enjoyed myself; I did medical and dental for my children and they got refreshment and a bag,” said Pamella Heron, who took four children to the treat.

One of those children, Kevoya Ingram, will attend Charlemont High School, which is located relatively close to the WINDALCO plant. “I feel happy; the event was alright. When I first got here, I waited a little long, but it is OK,” Kevoya told The Beacon.

Another student, Jeheima Anderson, said: “The event is very good because I got to do free medical and dental.”

Kareen Walters, a parent, added her voice to those lauding WINDALCO for what she described as a fabulous gesture. Her four children benefited.

Meanwhile, Watson, the WINDALCO representative, said it was a pleasure for the company to assist residents in what he described as a time of challenge for many parents who are busy preparing their children to return to school.

“We would have wanted to believe that the people appreciate this type of assistance from WINDALCO. This, for many parents, is one of the most challenging times,” Watson noted.

Here are some of the moments captured on camera at the treat:

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By Mills