Operation BackPack taking care of needy students
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Five years ago, Horace Daley read an article in The Gleaner about the plight of deprived students in Jamaica and felt compelled to do something about it.
Now residing in the United States, Daley, who said he experienced "similar ordeal" as a child in Jamaica, has been positively touching the lives of many poor students in his homeland.
He redirected an organisation that he founded - the US-based non-profit Professional Jamaicans for Jamaica, Inc - to implement a charitable initiative.
The initiative, dubbed Operation BackPack, came into existence in 2010, where people in the Diaspora and Jamaica donate backpacks and school supplies to needy Jamaican children.
"Our first distribution was October 2010 to children located in the Slipe Road community, near Cross Roads in Kingston," he said.
just for children
Daley said presen-tations are made to students in August each year just before the start of the academic year.
"Our organisation has earmarked various projects to aid our children," he noted.
Since venturing out, the organisation has travelled annually to numerous communities across Jamaica to distribute school supplies to children. These include North Gully, Albion, Flankers, and Catherine Hall in St James; as well as the South Trelawny region; Lyndhurst in Man-chester; and Cornwall Mountain in Westmoreland.
"We have also visited various inner-city communities, such as Jones Town and Trench Town in Kingston, and Linstead and Gordon Pen District in St Catherine," Daley told The Gleaner.
The organisation has also adopted the Fresh Fire Basic School in Braeton, St Catherine, and the Golden Kiddies Kingdom Nursery and Kindergarten in Longville, Clarendon, providing students with backpacks and basic school supplies to ensure they are prepared for the school year.
He said since the launch in 2010, the organisation has distributed more than 5,000 backpacks, benefiting thousands of students, and by all indications 2014 will be no different.
"This year, the Operation Backpack drive will focus on reaching a wider audience to meet the needs of more children in the remote areas of St Thomas, Portland, Hanover, St Ann, and St Mary," said Daley.
"We seek the support from fellow Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica to ensure our organisa-tion meets and/or exceeds its targeted goal."
Daley said the organisation initiated the drive based on the national outcry from the parents at the start of each school year, as published in The Gleaner.
"The organisation felt that it was duty-bound to aid children. We primarily focus on the educational and youth development of children, especially those from low-income and remote communities in Jamaica," said Daley.
He stressed, "This initiative seeks to engage members of society, globally and locally, to ensure that we continue to make positive contributions to the educational development of the most vulnerable members of our communities in Jamaica."
Daley lamented that it was unacceptable that many children in Jamaica are still not participating adequately in the educational process because they lack the necessary resources to attend school, including basic school supplies.
"We request financial support and in-kind donations to meet our annual targeted goal to ensure children in Jamaica will start the 2014 calendar school year off right," said Daley.
He added, "This year, backpacks and school supplies will be distributed to children in Jamaica on August 19. Our targeted goal is 1,000 backpacks."