Preparations are under way for what could be the biggest Christmas toy giveaway in Cayman Islands history.
On four nights at four locations, Santa Clause will hand out some 6,000 toys-with a retail value of more than $150,000-to all Grand Cayman children 10 years old and younger.
The ambitious project is the idea of Paul and Suzie Blount, owners of George Town toy store Noah’s Ark. They made the decision to do something nice for the children of Grand Cayman this Christmas as an emotional boost after the stressful times during and after Hurricane Ivan’s visit in September. Noah’s Ark was able to use its supplier connections to stretch sponsorship dollars extraordinarily far.
‘Kids have lost so much and been through so much,’ said Paul Blount. ‘We just want to do something nice for them. This is for all kids on Grand Cayman. We don’t care if their parents have money or not. Children with rich parents have been through a lot too.’
The toys will be distributed different locations around Grand Cayman during the week prior to Christmas day. Santa Claus will meet each child and present a wrapped gift. The presents will be age and gender appropriate.
Named ‘The Noah’s Ark Traveling Christmas Celebration’, the event will visit the district of East End on Monday, 20 December, at the beach near Lil Hurley’s. Next is the Bodden Town Primary School on Tuesday, 21 December. Residents of North Side and Savannah may attend either the East End or Bodden Town events. On Wednesday, 22 December, Santa and his truckload of toys will be at the Turtle Farm in West Bay. Finally, on Thursday, 23 December, the toy giveaway will make a final stop in George Town at the square behind the Courts Building. All four events are scheduled to take place from 6pm-8pm.
The presents will be carried by Cayshred trucks. Cayshred has also helped with receiving the toys through Port. Celebrations and CaymanONE are collaborating to decorate Santa’s platform.
The toys are all new. Some have a retail price of more than $100. They include: limited-edition dolls, wooden railway systems, Scalextrics car racing systems, children’s watches, remote-control cars, boats, and bead jewellery-making kits.
But there is more to the Noah’s Ark Traveling Christmas Celebration than toys.
Many activities are planned, including performances from the Cayman National Choir and the Cayman National Orchestra. Popular Cayman Islands band Hi Tide will perform in George Town. Carolling will be encouraged and refreshments will be provided by Hurley’s Marketplace. There also will be children’s games, face painting, a bouncy castle and more.
Paul Blount says his idea would not have gone very far without generous sponsors. The primary backers of the Noah’s Ark Traveling Christmas Celebration are Cayman National Corporation, Maples and Calder, and Dart Management.
‘Cayman National is thrilled to partner with other organizations on the island in support of this very special project,’ said Claudia Welds, senior executive, corporate communications of Cayman National Corporation. ‘Christmas is about giving and spreading goodwill to all people and what better way to spread this cheer than to put a smile on the face of a child. Putting people first is a fundamental principle of the Cayman National Group, and this is another opportunity to fulfil this, especially in light of the fact that Christmas will be different for most of us at home this year.’
“Involvement in community events, both financially and through the participation of our staff, has always been important to the firm,’ said Mark Matthews, a Maples and Calder senior partner. ‘This is particularly relevant this Christmas for our staff who are keen to get involved in their local area. Christmas is a time for families and we look forward to helping make it a better one for the children of the Cayman Islands.”
“In the spirit of the holiday season, Dart Management is pleased to partner with other Cayman companies to provide children with toys for Christmas,’ said John J. Papesh, vice president of Dart Management. ‘We hope that our contribution will help make this Christmas even more special for children and their families in Grand Cayman. Given that many children have lost their toys due to Hurricane Ivan, we thought this would be an excellent charitable project for us to get involved with to help make a meaningful difference in the community.’
Radio stations Z-99 and Rooster 101 are assisting with organization and marketing.
‘We are honoured to assist Noah’s Ark in this endeavour,’ said Z-99 Promotions Director Nicole Lalum. ‘Sometimes we believe too highly in the innocence of children and forget that they have suffered also. There are so many kids on island that have lost everything and deserve to have special memories of Christmas. This will be an enchanting occasion and Z99 and Rooster 101 are proud to be a part of it.’
Blount said the Noah’s Ark Traveling Christmas Celebration is non-profit and all toys designated for the project will be distributed to children free of charge. The Noah’s Ark store is at Pasadora Place in George Town.