Feeding the homeless
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth:
EVERY THURSDAY, members of the Santa Cruz Area Group of the St Elizabeth branch of the Jamaica Red Cross take to the streets of Santa Cruz with warm, home-cooked meals for the homeless.
"We have a feeding programme, where we feed the street people [on the streets of Santa Cruz] every Thursday, and we
have about 25 street persons [who we feed regularly]. They are the ones who go and ravage through the bins to find food.
"We cook and box the food and take it to them. We cannot get them to assemble at one point, so we drive around the town in the ambulance with the amber light on and where we see them, we stop and take the food to them," one member of the Santa Cruz Area Group, Lawrence Doctor Snr, told Rural Xpress.
Doctor, who is the first-aid coordinator and ambulance driver for the St Elizabeth branch, has been a member of the club for more than 35 years. He said the idea for the feeding programme was born some 10 years ago, when he recognised the need in the area.
"I'm retired and when I [came] down to Santa Cruz in the mornings and [saw] those [persons] digging up the garbage bin to find food, it [reached] me so I [brought the idea of] this feeding programme [to] the meeting and they agreed," Doctor explained.
He said it gave him immense joy to be able to participate in such a cause, but said he sees where more could be done for other needy persons in and around the town of Santa Cruz. Doctor said, however, that the project was funded by the members of the Santa Cruz Area Group and as a result, they were limited in how much they were able to do. Subsequently, he called on members of the business community to join with the club to make an even greater impact.
"I have a sense of pride that I'm able to help my fellowmen in this, and they are quite appreciative of it. If I should drive the ambulance downtown right now, you would see some come out and look at me; some would come and stop me because they are mentally disturbed, [and once they see the ambulance] they think it is food.
"I would be happy if the business community would come on board with us by way of donation of food items. We could feed more because we have persons who are shut-ins. We could extend it to the surrounding areas; we could go up to Burnt Ground, Leeds and other areas, instead of just focusing on the street people in the town," Doctor said.
Doctor went on to encourage others to lend a helping hand to the disadvantaged in whatever ways they could. He said while there might not always be money or tangible items to give, person could volunteer their time to help others.