Thu | Oct 19, 2017

St Mary elderly get bright Christmas

Published:Thursday | December 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Students and staff from Marymount High School in Highgate, St Mary, pose with elderly local resident Alvin Allen after giving him a Christmas food parcel.

HIGHGATE, St Mary:

TWENTY VULNERABLE senior citizens living in and around Highgate, St Mary, were surprised to receive Christmas food packages earlier this week, thanks to an annual community service initiative hosted by a local secondary school.

Every year, during the days leading up to the festive period, students from Marymount High School traverse the town and its environs, providing good cheer, gifts and prayer to struggling elderly residents.

The kindly students journeyed to nearby districts such as Richmond, Aleppo, Zion Hill and Orange River to deliver parcels comprising toiletries, juices, tinned vegetables, rice, and other foodstuffs.

One lucky recipient, Alvin Allen, thanked the girls for remembering him at Christmas. The 72-year-old Highgate resident told Rural Xpress: "It feels nice to know these girls have come to give me this gift. I've been to the doctor three times this week for my blood pressure and sugar because I used to drink hard. Right now, I'm taking it easy and hoping to have a nice, quiet Christmas."

Other beneficiaries this year included prisoners at the Richmond Farm Correctional Facility, who received carol songs and prayers; and retiree Daphne Morris, who worked as a housekeeper for more than 40 years for the Franciscan Sisters, who founded Marymount.

Showing love

President of the school's Holiday Helpers project, Olivia Harley, said: "Each Christmas, some of us sixth-formers pack gifts and bring them to shut-in elderly people who are unable to take care of themselves. We show them love, appreciation, and that they have not been forgotten.

"Many of them live in such deep rural areas that they can't come out to experience the love and joy of Christmas, so we try and bring the festive spirit to them. Some of the people we visited had water in their eyes and wanted to cry because they were so overjoyed, but there was one man, 'Oney' from Richmond, who really broke us down.

"He has one foot, a urinary catheter, and nobody to take care of him. He was so weak and sick that he couldn't smile, even though he wanted to. We're really glad we were able to bring him some joy."

Marymount's senior guidance counsellor, Angella Murphy, added: "This initiative, dubbed the 'Holiday Helpers' is spearheaded by the grade-13 students and supported by the school's guidance and welfare department.

"I think it's a good project for the girls because they get to have experiences they never had before. I saw some of them breaking down when they saw [Oney], how sick and needy he was, and the type of environment he lives in without any assistance. Some of the lessons they learned include gaining a greater appreciation for life, good health, and their family and friends.

"Also, it's really good to see these girls go out and do this type of work, so others can see there is still a lot of good in our young people, and hope for Jamaica."

rural@gleanerjm.com