"Send us your donations, and we will show you the results."
That was the challenge from chairman of Food For The Poor (FFP), Andrew Mahfood, as he pleaded with members of the private sector and the wider public to help the organisation deliver 15,000 desks and chairs to schools islandwide by the end of the current school year.
"How will our children learn if they use rusty and rickety desks and chairs? This is unsafe," he said. "Even more disturbing is that some schools have children standing during classes."
Mahfood was speaking at the launch of the FFP's 30th anniversary school-furniture campaign at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew yesterday.
In August, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites announced that 16,000 pieces of furniture would be distributed.
But Mahfood, quoting the ministry, said regions One and Two needed nearly 7,000 desks and chairs.
"The needs, from what we understand, are even greater in Region Six, which we understand is the largest Ministry of Education region," he added.
FFP will be looking to raise US$300,000 to fund the purchase of the furniture.
Mahfood said the first batch of 2,300 units is scheduled to arrive in December, and would be distributed to schools in January 2014.
Dennis Chung, CEO of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), said many persons did not realise the important role played by organisations such as FFP in the economy.
"Children cannot learn if they are not comfortable," he said. "And if the children cannot maximise their learning, then we end up having unproductive labour, which is one of the significant reasons for our low-growth performance."
Chung openly invited Mahfood to meet with the PSOJ to see how the organisation could assist.
Speaking at the function yesterday, Thwaites called for members of the diaspora to assist in finding the necessary funds.
"There are more than 130 alumni groups of Jamaican schools - primary and secondary - in the United States alone," he said.
He admitted that, at times, these groups are reluctant to give because their donations are often tied up at the wharf.
Thwaites assured the gathering that the ministry would facilitate any gift.