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Show 'Pickney Love' this Christmas

Published:Friday | November 25, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Stacy-Ann Smith, Contributor

IT IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you turn, merchants are getting ready for the busy holiday sales period. For our neighbours to the north, today is the biggest shopping day of the year. Black Friday, as it's called, is considered the official start of the holiday shopping season in the United States, providing a boost for retailers already holding their own and a proverbial shot in the arm for struggling businesses.

The local shopping season, however, won't gather momentum for some weeks yet. Still, the business community is anticipating the usual crowds that will descend on shopping zones as consumers buy gifts and goodies for the nice as well as the naughty. But while many Jamaicans will make merry, some will have little about which to be cheerful. It's for the least of these that many groups make a special effort at this time of year.

Senior vice-president for group marketing and corporate affairs for the Capital & Credit Financial Group (CCFG) Michelle Wilson-Reynolds is encouraging fellow corporate citizens to sow a seed of love this holiday season. For the past 10 years, the CCFG team, led by Ryland Campbell, have opened their hearts and wallets to make Christmas merry for a special group of children. It's their way of showing 'Pickney Love'. "Many organisations give Christmas treats and that's fine. But when I went to Capital and Credit in 2001, I remember telling Mr Campbell that we wanted to do something at Christmas. But I didn't want to just do a treat, love them and leave them," says Wilson-Reynolds, as she recalls brainstorming and developing an idea to do something that would last long after the holidays had gone and the toys had lost legs and wheels. They came up with the idea of staging a concert featuring wholesome local acts, both professional and amateur, who, for the most part, would give of their time and talent. That idea became known as 'Pickney Love at Christmas', an annual concert staged and paid for by Capital & Credit, from which all the proceeds go to charity.

Since 2002, funds raised from 'Pickney Love at Christmas' have gone to the Dare to Care Home for Children. The facility is home to about 70 children living with or who have been affected by HIV and AIDS. According to Wilson-Reynolds, last year, the company raised 1.62 million, which bought its total contribution to the home to $10.32 million to date. This year is the show's 10th anniversary, and they are hoping to top that figure. But the banking executive says, besides the feeling of accomplishment from having successfully staged the concert every year, there is the sense of fulfilment from knowing that, despite the challenges, they are still able to affect people's lives in a meaningful way. "Since we have put on this concert, not one child has died as a result of needing the anti-retroviral medicine. And ever since we have been doing the show, the Dare to Care has changed from being a hospice where people go to die to being a home for children," declares Wilson-Reynolds proudly.

The Capital & Credit executive is also pleased with the company's overall track record of corporate social responsibility. In addition to 'Pickney Love at Christmas', the financial entity supports child welfare through scholarships for education from the primary through to the tertiary level. "We can't be all things to all charities, so we focus on some specific areas such as education, health and sports," she says. Wilson-Reynolds asserts that giving consistently in challenging economic times requires special effort, and so the company developed a business strategy for sustained giving. "It is part of the vision we share for Jamaica. A vision that all Jamaicans would want to be proud of the country and, if we can enable as many people as possible to be successful, then we ourselves will also be successful. It's a win-win situation," says Wilson-Reynolds.

Join the Capital & Credit team for 'Pickney Love at Christmas' on Tuesday, December 13, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel ballroom. The show starts at 7 p.m. and features some of the hottest local artistes, including Wayne Marshall, Marcia Griffiths, Tanya Stephens, Luciano, Chino and Freddy McGregor.