Build Our Children's Hope Foundation helping children
Without even knowing it, customers of Blingers in Ocho Rios are supporting children from a wide cross section of Jamaica by contributing to their well-being in several ways.
That's because proprietor Mark Pai donates part of the proceeds from everything he sells in the store to his Build Our Children's Hope Foundation, which is geared, as it says, to help build a bright future for our children.
"We have to build our children's hope. Hope is everything for our kids, you know," Pai said of the foundation. "'Today's Vision - Tomorrow's Reality'. That's our motto."
Recently, when Pai's father and brother celebrated their birthdays in the same week, he opted not to throw a birthday party for them as customary, but instead decided to use the funds to treat children of the Mustard Seed Community of Jacob's Ladder in Haddon near Moneague, St Ann.
And this came after he had made a sizeable donation to Westwood High School's rebuilding fund, following a fire at the all-girls' institution, where his daughter is a student.
"We had a plan from a long time to go to Mustard Seed because we've been doing things like that. So for that week, we said, 'OK, we have to do something different, not just having parties and stuff. It's better we do it for the needy'," Pai told The Gleaner.
So after getting a list of items needed to prepare meals for the 96 residents, Pai bought the necessary items and took them to the facility. The staff prepared the meals and last Sunday, Pai and his supportive staff, along with family members, went to Mustard Seed and spent hours with the children.
"We went out there and we shared food for all 96 residents. It was really good, the staff over there was really great. We also brought cake and ice cream and stuff like that because it's something they don't get every day."
Pai said it was also an emotional occasion as tears were shed by several persons.
"It was a special occasion, but it was more emotional actually. I mean, my dad actually was in tears. He's from India and he has been doing these things from he was young so for me to be part of it and supporting him doing this he was emotionally attached. And a lot of people over there were actually crying when we were leaving out."
Regarding the donation to Westwood, Pai said it was his daughter who told him about the fire and encouraged him to help. He would later hand over a cheque for $300,000 to principal Karen Francis.