'Tis the season for giving back, and the Jamaica Red Cross, St Elizabeth branch, decided last Thursday to do this by ensuring that some less-fortunate individuals had at least one cooked meal for Christmas.
Director of the St Elizabeth Red Cross, Sheila Doctor, said the event, which is an annual one, started 20 years ago and has grown from around 10 individuals to 150 adults and children this year.
The Jamaica Red Cross is part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world's largest humanitarian organisation. The association is guided by seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, universality, and unity. Doctor said the dinner was held based on the principle of humanity.
"This is a part of the care section of the Jamaica Red Cross, where we feed people, we look about the welfare of persons, the less fortunate. We abide by the seven principles of the Red Cross, and so we are looking at the humanitarian side, looking to see that at least everybody has a meal for Christmas.
This is an annual event we started doing from way back when we came to Santa Cruz - from about 1990. And then we started with about 10 or 20 each year - and we noticed that each year, the number got bigger and bigger. We also give a food package for the persons to take home.
"We noticed that over time, they started bringing their children and grandchildren and we never turn away anybody without giving them something. [Although the treat is for adults], if the children come along, we try our best to see that everybody gets something," Doctor told Rural Xpress.
She said this was done in addition to the St Elizabeth Red Cross weekly street-people feeding programme, where volunteers come together to provide meals for those living on the streets on Thursdays.
"Every Thursday, we feed persons in the street. At least, we have 17 persons who always look out for the ambulance to come along and take them a meal every Thursday," she said.
Doctor, who has been a Red Cross volunteer for 42 years, encouraged others, especially young people, to give their time to help those who are in need.
"We need a lot of persons in the Red Cross. whatever skills you have, we do not turn away anybody from the Red Cross. Everybody is of importance in the Red Cross. We don't have anybody who will say that you are of no use. we make use of every single person," she added.
One senior citizen who attends the treat every year said he was appreciative of the gesture as it was a true demonstration of the reason for the season, adding that it was more than simply about the eating of food, but was a show of kindness to the indigent.
- L. C.