Victoria Bise, 16, a student at Cayman International School, is once again running her toy drive to ensure every child in Grand Cayman receives a gift for Christmas.
She started her 25 Days of Christmas campaign four years ago and has collected gifts for the less-fortunate children in the Cayman Islands each year since.
“I just woke up one day and thought ‘I want to do something different’,” she said. “I wanted to do something more than get up in the mornings, go to school and come home. I love kids and I think Christmas is a time when all kids should be happy.”
From there the idea for a toy drive was born. Her parents help by sending out emails to friends and colleagues and she publicises it through the radio and print media. Last year, she collected about 700 gifts. The majority of the gifts were delivered to the Department of Children and Family Services for distribution. A number of gifts were also taken to the Paediatric Ward at George Town Hospital so children who were unwell during Christmas might also receive a gift.
The deadline for making donations is 16 December, and on 19 December Miss Bise will deliver the gifts to the Department of Children and Family Services and the hospital. Miss Bise said she will go to the Paediatric Ward when the gifts are distributed and will visit children in hospital, talk with them and read them stories.
“This is completely her idea. We just help her by driving around collecting or delivering things,” said her mother, Veronique Bise. “Soon she will off to college though so she is now training her younger sister [who is 11] to take over the toy drive. This year, Miss Bise is urging individuals and companies to donate gifts to ensure a happy festive season for everyone. Gifts for any age will be welcomed, although she does stress they receive many gifts for younger children, so items suitable for teenagers will also be very welcome. She further asks these gifts be new, rather than used.
“As a novelty this year, I was also thinking that restaurant gift vouchers for a family meal at Christmas would be greatly appreciated and make an amazing gift,” she said, adding gift vouchers of any kind would be welcome. Any cash donations, added her mother, will be used to purchase items that have been identified to them, such as small plates, bowls and cutlery to make eating easier for the children in the hospital.
The toy drive began on 1 December. Miss Bise said the response has been excellent.
“I have had lots of calls and emails already from people saying they have things to deliver,” she said. “One person has already promised to donate 30 or 35 scooters for kids, so it’s a great start.”
Those wishing to donate gifts for children and teenagers may drop items off at the Cayman Islands Customs Agency by 16 December, or contact Miss Bise or her parents. Pick ups from corporations may also be arranged.
Contact Victoria at [email protected] or call 925-2204
For further information call Victoria Bise on 925-2204, her mother on 926 5599 or her father on 925-5707.