SAJ donates to Walker's Place of Safety
Last week, the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) made a donation to the Walker's Place of Safety. The handing-over ceremony was held at the association's Newport West offices, and was attended by the public relations manager and the director of financial management and accounting services at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency.
In response to the sad news of the fire on January 15, the SAJ staff set to work to devise a means to make a contribution. The subsequent fundraising was marshalled by Camille Spence and Vershema Vickers from the SAJ's finance and human resource departments respectively. The money collected from staff was matched by the association and was used to purchase non-perishable food and toiletries for the 34 children.
"The SAJ was touched by the news of the fire at Walker's," SAJ Financial Controller Raymond Ernandez said. "We knew we had to do what we could to help ease the pain the children must be going through. We felt it our corporate social responsibility - which is something we take seriously - to offer our assistance.
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who died. We know that brighter days are ahead for them as well as for the children and staff of Walker's," Ernandez said.
MEANT A LOT
The finance director of the Child Protection Agency, Michelle McIntosh, received the donation on behalf of Walker's. The agency is mandated to provide care for children who live in children's homes and places of safety. McIntosh shared that the items would be valuable in caring for the dispersed children who are currently staying in three different homes.
"Rest assured," she said, "your donation will not go in vain, as the children will appreciate everything you have given.''
She went on to say that the outpouring of support by the entire country has strengthened her belief in the goodness of the Jamaican people.
"The response since the fire has been overwhelming," she said. "Corporate Jamaica has given great support to the children, [and so have] ordinary Jamaicans who have given what they can. some have given a thousand dollars, for example, and it has meant a lot to all of us as we work to rebuild and bring back normalcy to these children's lives."
As the work to rebuild progresses steadily, McIntosh is urging Jamaicans to continue to give their support. She said that close to 5,000 children are in state care and are in need of help and mentorship.
"I am encouraging the SAJ, other companies, and individuals to mentor these children. More than anything, they want to be loved. They want to know that somebody cares for them. The girls, especially, need empowerment, as they have had horrendous experiences which have shattered their self-esteem and trust in adults."
The SAJ has several charitable projects that are spearheaded by departments within the association. They include the annual Christmas treat for the children at the Marcus Garvey Basic school in Greenwich Farm and the elderly in the community. They also 'Feed the Needy' in a food drive for the homeless in downtown Kingston.