Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Poor people get special holiday treat

Published:Saturday | December 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Executive Director of Food For the Poor (FFP) David Mair has said that the annual mass feeding of the poor at Christmas time is one of the most impactful events locally that has grown from strength to strength in recent years.

Mair, who has headed the charity organisation for three and a half years, pointed to the increase in the number of volunteers as well as corporate support as the reasons for the improved event.

"We've had a lot of help from Salvation Army, and since I've been here, I've seen a definite improvement in how we bring them in and how we seat them. The volunteers have been crucial in directing and keeping order because 2,000 people is no small crowd," said Mair, adding that the efforts of FFP, the Salvation Army, and others, resulted in more than 250 persons turning out to volunteer.

"We've seen a great response to our needs from corporate Jamaica. There's always need for improvement because unfortunately, the poor and needy will always be with us, so we always accept and invite more sponsorship, but we are getting the support, and we're very thankful for that," Mair added.

The executive underscored that FFP was totally ingrained in the fabric of the country.

"We're involved in a cross-section of every ministry. We're involved in education through the building of schools; housing

ministry, through constructing houses for the less fortunate; agriculture because we have 18 fishing villages on the ground; we're involved in all public hospitals. So we will continue to make a difference and alleviate suffering," said Mair.

As part of its Christmas activities, FFP will next treat children from 26 orphanages on Wednesday, December 20.

'I will remember this long after the food done'

All but forgotten by his family and subjected to public ridicule on a daily basis, Joshua Campbell, who prefers to look at the glass as half-full, was quick to share that "in everything, it's the thought that counts."

Campbell was among the hundreds of indigents who were fÍted by Food For the Poor and the Salvation Army at Emmett Park in downtown Kingston on Thursday.

"My family don't give me a sweetie in over five years, so for a group of strangers to feed me, and a whole heap more, is amazing, and I will remember this long after the food done," said Campbell, who was attending the treat for the fifth consecutive year.

The 62-year-old father of four told The Gleaner that he had been a carpenter until around 2010, when he developed a drinking problem and fell on hard times.

He stated that his inability to hold down work mixed with his love for alcohol resulted in his common-law spouse evicting him from a house they shared in east Kingston.

But in spite of the hand life has dealt him, Campbell pointed out that Christmas activities, the feeding of the homeless, in particular, is something that brings him joy each year.

"God knows best in everything, and I just hope that in years to come, I can be back here offering help, not being helped," said Campbell.

Inside and outside the massive grounds, other persons could be heard praising the organisers of the event, none more so than an elderly woman with a walker, who exclaimed: "Thank you, Jesus! Bless them!" as she received her gift package.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com