St Ann teacher extends helping hand
ST ANN EDUCATOR Beverly Grant Ellis has been extending a helping hand to needy families and elderly residents in Runaway Bay, in the parish, as the country continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
With the support of corporate Jamaica and other donors, the grade-three teacher at Runaway Bay All-Age School was able to deliver 115 care packages to help ease the financial hardship being faced by some residents.
She said the packages contained items such as rice, sugar, flour, pumpkin, eggs, bread, water, beverages, toiletries, cooking oil, canned foods and snacks for children.
Ellis also provided phone cards to facilitate online learning for children due to the closure of schools.
She said she felt compelled to assist after recognising the challenges being faced by individuals within her community, particularly parents who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
“Most of the hotel workers lost their jobs, so I said, I think there will be a need for this drive in my community, since most parents work in the hotel industry,” she noted.
“I got up one morning and said, ‘I am going to pack some stuff, especially for those in the hospitality industry’. You also have some parents who are live-in helpers, and you know most persons are home now, so there is no need for them. Therefore, I saw the need to assist them by taking food packages to their homes,” she added.
The grade-three teacher explained that following a public appeal, a number of corporate entities came forward to assist.
“I got a busload of snacks from Excelsior Biscuit Company in Kingston. I got bags of rice and flour from C.R. Hylton & Company, an accounting firm in Kingston, and that took us a far way. The juices I got from Island Dairies Limited in St Ann, and the breakfast items, like the bread, I got from Spicy Nice [in Brown’s Town]. I got eggs from a small farmer, and Bravo Supermarket in St Ann’s Bay donated some water as well,” she said.
Ellis pointed out that she was able to conduct three food drives, the first of which was carried out two weeks after the closure of school.
Meanwhile, Ellis has spent approximately $150,000 to construct a concrete bathroom as well as undertake repairs to the home of an elderly, visually impaired man in Runaway Bay.
The educator explained that the gentleman’s living conditions came to her attention following a visit to his home to distribute care packages.
“I made a specific appeal to the public for immediate assistance to have the place cleaned, and that was done through the assistance of some ladies,” she informed.
Ellis is no stranger to charitable work. Before the advent of COVID-19, she had been assisting 12 needy students in three parishes to attend school through her ‘Help the Children Stay in School’ programme.