The first shipment of items from the Ritz-Carlton Kids Care programme arrived in Grand Cayman last Thursday, 16 December.
Organisers and contributors might consider that they were just the right items at the right time: teddy bears and T-shirts and thousands of pieces of chocolate candy for distribution to school children.
The shipment was brought in by Cayman Airways, cleared from Customs by Education Department personnel, then hauled by Lemmie’s Trucking to Prospect Primary School where items were unpacked and counted out for teachers to pick up and deliver to the other schools.
The Ritz-Carlton Kids Care programme also arranged for several thousand bags in which the goodies could be packed. These were provided by Xanadu Distributing Ltd, which contributed a helpful extra quantity.
Ms Gloria Pollard, Education Officer for Language Arts, expressed gratitude on behalf of the Education Department. ‘We say a big thank you to everyone for this gesture,’ she commented. ‘It brought joy to the children. Just going home with something made them happy.’
The youngest students seemed to enjoy playing with the teddy bears, she noted. Older students might want to keep them as a collectible or be in the pleasant position of being able to make a gift of them to someone else.
Ms Pollard noted that discussions have been ongoing with Kids Care in regard to school supplies. ‘In January they expect to provide us with teaching materials – books, art and music materials.’
The schools were canvassed as to their needs after Hurricane Ivan interfered with their opening until late October/ early November. As a result, some furniture, a few tents and coolers are also expected.
Several hundred toys were included in last week’s shipment and these were earmarked for distribution through the United Churches.
Kids Care project coordinator Ms Theresa Broderick expressed thanks to everyone involved. Ms Broderick is Executive Director of Culture, Environment and Destination Services for The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
‘The challenge of acquiring these gifts by kind donations and bulk purchase and getting them across the US and the oceans in less than two weeks was not an easy feat; in fact, it seems nothing short of miraculous,’ Ms Broderick said.
‘I am moved by the many small but significant and very kind and personal acts of assistance by so many individuals amongst many companies including our own Cayman Airways Cargo Department, Caribbean Freight Systems Inc. and Caribbean Distributors Inc in Miami,’ she stated.
Ms Broderick also renewed a pledge of further assistance.
‘Thanks to the caring efforts and kindness of hundreds of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company employees in the US, the generosity of many of our suppliers, the support of United Way International and with continued assistance of Tropical Inc and Thompson Shipping Company, we will have a tremendous amount of donated supplies to distribute amongst the remaining learning centres, public schools and charitable after-school programmes in the new year.’