Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
Marigold Harding, custos of St Andrew has called on St Andrew Justices of the Peace to remember that they voluntarily took the oath to serve their fellow citizens, so the office of J.P. should not be seen as a source of income. She was speaking at Saturday night's annual awards dinner for St Andrew justices of the peace and the St Andrew Chapter of the Lay Magistrates Association. It was held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, along Waterloo Road.
Her comments came in response to the front page story in The Sunday Gleaner dated December 1, headlined: 'Serving for a Price'. The story revealed that justices of the peace across five parishes were demanding payment for services that should be free of cost. Custos Harding noted that the spirit of volunteerism in Jamaica is fast evaporating and justices of the peace stand as one of the last bastions of such a noble endeavour, however, "I acknowledge that we are in difficult economic times and some of us will experience financial challenges. But please recall that when you volunteered for the office, you agreed to help your fellow citizens," the Custos said.
She outlined the following as some of the ways in which justices of the peace could make a difference by volunteering their time in society.
1. Help elderly neighbours with simple tasks such as opening jars, running errands, sitting to have conversations with those who are lonely and need a listening ear.
2. Visit the shut-in, group homes or the sick to offer cheer and comfort.
3. Help with chores around the house and yard such as cooking, light cleaning and gardening.
4. Help the disabled by reading to the blind or doing errands for those with limited mobility.
CARING FOR LESS FORTUNATE
5. Caring for less fortunate families who don't have enough funds to get by, helping with school expenses, organising food drives to donate canned goods and other food items to them.
6. Give spare cash to charities like the Salvation Army.
7. Give unwanted items to charity rather than have a garage sale.
8. Start a neighbourhood watch group to help lower crime.
9. Start a book drive to assist children or others who have none.
10. Organise planting a community garden on vacant lots so that those on fixed incomes can benefit from items produced.
11. Volunteer to tutor the young or illiterate.
12. Get the children involved early in helping others in need.
Custos Harding urged the JPs to begin with the upcoming holidays to make it a time of happiness and celebration for those who are struggling. She said that through church or business places, justices of the peace could deliver meals, toys or clothing.