Sun | Oct 25, 2020

UniCycle Jamaica secures 700 masks - Uniform drive extended to end of October

Published:Saturday | September 12, 2020 | 12:08 AMJamila Litchmore/Special Projects and Engagement Editor
The masks were made by Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme volunteers with fabric donated to UniCycle by their partners, Ralaica Fabrics and Trimmings and LP Azar.
The masks were made by Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme volunteers with fabric donated to UniCycle by their partners, Ralaica Fabrics and Trimmings and LP Azar.
Colonel Martin Rickman, national coordinator, Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme.
Colonel Martin Rickman, national coordinator, Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme.
Rhys Greenland, co-founder of UniCycle Jamaica.
Rhys Greenland, co-founder of UniCycle Jamaica.
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UniCycle Jamaica has received an added boost to their uniform collection drive, in the form of 700 fabric masks.

The masks were made by Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme volunteers, with fabric donated to UniCycle by their partners, Ralaica Fabrics and Trimmings and LP Azar. As Jamaicans continue to face the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the masks will be paired with uniforms donated to schools and students in need.

For HOPE National Coordinator, Colonel Martin Rickman, the partnership with UniCycle was a perfect fit, as the HOPE Programme is designed to engage vulnerable youth and provide training and employment.

“I was quite pleased when I was approached by UniCycle to partner with them on this great initiative to help vulnerable young people, in particular schoolchildren, to assist with their back-to-school efforts in terms of uniforms and so on. I was more than pleased to partner with them to have the masks made by the same vulnerable youths [they would assist] who we have trained in garment manufacturing and sewing,” Colonel Rickman told The Gleaner.

With the masks secured, all effort is being placed in ramping up donations. UniCycle has extended its collection of gently used uniforms to the end of October.

EXTENSION TO AID IN MEETING TARGET

While there has been a drop in collections in comparison to last year, it is hoped that the extension, made possible by the delay in the reopening of physical schools, will help the student-led initiative to hit its 2020 collection target of 1,000 khakis. It is also hoped that more white shirts for female students will be donated as well.

“[Donations are] less than last year, because of COVID-19, but steady,” said Maria Greenland.

The social media coordinator has been working closely with brother, Rhys, who started UniCycle Jamaica in 2018 with former Campion College schoolmate Jordan Nakash, who just recently started attending Boston College.

Greenland says corporate sponsors have stepped up to the plate in a big way.

Local department store, Joseph’s, has donated khaki uniforms to UniCycle. Digicel Foundation has also made a more than $15,000 investment in UniCycle’s student recipients, in the form of data.

“[This means] that up to 30 students can benefit from the Ministry [of Education’s] $500 for two weeks of access deal,” she noted, referring to the subsidised Education Plan being offered by Digicel in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Jamaicans in the disapora have also made donations. It is for that reason that UniCycle is looking to expand its collection methods for next year and set up a website.

Spreading the idea and work of UniCycle is also top of the to-do list.

“We are speaking with friends in other islands about starting UniCycle in their countries, too. So hopefully the idea will spread over time,” Greenland said.

With distribution set to begin in the next few weeks, the UniCycle team is looking to prepare the uniforms received and arrange handovers.

Explaining the process, Greenland says the crests are removed from the khakis and the uniforms washed, grouped and packaged by size.

Families and non-governmental organisations head the list for donations.

“We are responding to requests from non-governmental organisations and families first, and handing over the remainder to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and adding masks,” she shared.

To donate, learn more or contact UniCycle Jamaica, visit @unicyclejamaica on Instagram or email unicyclejamaica@gmail.com. Donations may be made at Fontana pharmacies islandwide. Have a good story you’d like to share? Email us at goodheart@gleanerjm.com.

jamila.litchmore@gleanerjm.com