Rural Express: Marymount High School students spread Christmas cheer
Orantes Moore, Gleaner Writer
Struggling senior citizens in central St Mary received a pleasant surprise last week when students from Marymount High School in Highgate arrived on their doorsteps with special Christmas food parcels.
The festive-sharing initiative was conceived by nine of the school's grade-13 students - Robyn Boyd, Jordonna Bailey, Santana Broderick, Kishayne Seymour, Chevonae Murphy, Annesha Hoilett, Rozzanne Walters, Alsey-Cree Stewart and Anicia Whorms - and culminated with the delivery of 21 packages to retirees in Highgate, Richmond, Aleppo, Cromwell Land and Belfield.
One of the lucky recipients, Eustace Whitely, sold snacks and drinks outside of Marymount and was a popular person among students and faculty for many years before he retired in 2010.
After the visitors sang carols, prayed and presented him with their gift, Whitely, 70, told Rural Xpress: "I'm very well and happy to know these girls have remembered me at this time. I'm good because I have my health, and I'm looking forward to the new year."
Other beneficiaries included Icelda Helding, 83, and an immobile, but jovial 89-year-old named Aston Johnson, who said: "My feet and toes are not working, and sometimes it feels like a sharp instrument is pushing into them, but I don't really suffer with pain that much.
"I'm just weak and can hardly walk. As you see, I have to use a stick just to walk around the house. I don't feel any pain, but have a lot of problems - my hearing is gone, my sight is going, and sometimes I see people that I know well, but don't recognise them.
"This gift from the girls is beautiful. Sometimes I feel like I want to die, but when I see you guys come here and behave like this, it makes me want to live more. Blessings on all of you."
Senior guidance counsellor at Marymount, Angella Murphy, said: "These students call themselves the 'Holiday Helpers' and their main focus is volunteerism and sharing. The project was conceptualised by them and coordinated by the school's guidance and counselling department.
"Most of the donations came from [food distributor] Seprod and other companies and individuals. The students spent all of yesterday wrapping the packages, and this morning they started delivering them.
giving is a blessing
"What we are trying to do is help these girls understand that giving is a blessing, and there are senior citizens around them who have contributed a lot to the community, but feel as if nobody remembers them.
"We have given a number of retirees gifts today, and they were so delighted and elated because they feel forgotten. Just seeing the girls made some of them tearful."
Marymount's principal, Lorna Bailey, praised the students for their selfless dedication, noting they had braved the rainy weather to deliver the parcels.
She added: "These girls have done a wonderful job. What they have done is really commendable because we are a Catholic school and believe in helping others.
"It is very important that we teach our children to help others because young people can be very selfish, so we want to teach them what it means to share the little they have with other people, especially the older folks in our communities."