MONTEGO BAY, St James – Needy residents in some of St James toughest inner-city communities are today breathing a little easier, courtesy of over $5 million worth of care packages from the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The distribution, which was done through the chamber’s ‘Love thy Neighbour’ initiative, was aimed at the poor and the elderly, reaching some 1,200 households, and included food, sanitisers and toiletries. It also brings to a total of $8.5 million, the organisation’s response so far to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Chairman of the ‘Love thy Neighbour’ Committee, Reverend Everton Jackson, said he cannot recall seeing this level of appreciation as was demonstrated by residents on receipt of the packages.
“It was something to behold…something that was so touching that we as volunteers couldn’t help but be visibly moved,” he explained.
“These are very difficult times for everybody and so a gesture of this magnitude will go a long way in easing some of the pressure and stress that many of these households and communities have been experiencing.”
Reverend Jackson said the Montego Bay Chamber and Industry, in particular, must be commended on spearheading the initiative, adding that it is times like these that the spirit of volunteerism has to be one of the shining examples in communities right across Jamaica.
He said while the packages can only reach so much persons for now, the goal is to get more contributions from other entities where even more residents can be accommodated.
“This is all about love and solidarity…of reaching out to those who are in need so as to let them know that they are not alone,” Reverend Jackson added.
For his part, Montego Bay Chamber director and lead of the ‘Love thy Neighbour’ committee, Chumu Paris, said the experience in distributing the care packages to those who are truly in need has been astonishingly rewarding and to the point where “I wished I could just keep going on where everybody could be accommodated.”
“What we have been seeing and have been experiencing are persons who have been badly affected from the COVID-19 fallout…from an economic standpoint,” Paris noted.
“We are seeing persons who have lost their jobs and thus their ability to earn. We are seeing the poor…the vulnerable and the elderly…and who are all very grateful for the assistance.”
Paris said that in order to ensure that the packages had gotten into the right hands, the committee had recruited the services of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) and also the Child Development Agency (CDA), to assist in identifying needy households, and also to provide oversight over the distribution of the items.
He noted that the situation is made easier when the community leaders are involved, and who can ensure that the persons who are in need the most are given first priority.
Paris added that while the chamber is grateful to all its contributing members, “it would be remiss of me” not to acknowledge Rosh Marketing’s Rosh Ramchandani, who gave 50 per cent of the goods, valued at $2.2 million
Other companies involved in making the distribution possible, include: Sarah’s Children, Madden’s and Dovecot, Barnett Estates, Whitter Group, Wayne Cummings, Winston Lawson, Consumer Plus, Top Mart, Rainforest Seafoods, the Tourism Linkages Network, and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
Some of the communities visited include Norwood, Flanker, Salt Spring, Melbourne, Rose Heights, Retirement, Hart Street, Providence Heights, Irwindale, Rosemount, and Farm Heights.
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