A festive campaign to deliver groceries and Christmas gifts to some of the Cayman Islands most needy families launched Friday.
The campaign, organized by charity Acts of Random Kindness, asks kind-hearted residents to fill bags of groceries from a specified shopping list, to be handed out over Christmas.
The first phase of the ‘giving is receiving’ campaign involves people collecting ARK’s blue bags from the Camana Bay Discovery Center and returning them filled with a list of essential items, ranging from laundry soap and diapers to crackers and sugar. Shoppers also have the option to buy a Christmas present for a child.
Businesses and schools are also getting involved, challenging their staff and students to fill bags for the campaign.
The goods collected will be sorted and repackaged by volunteers, tailored to the specific needs of the families and distributed along with a food voucher of around $100.
Tara Nielsen of ARK said the impact of the recession and increased unemployment meant social services were stretched to the limit and there were more families living on the breadline.
“There are families here that have literally nothing. Some of them are not receiving any form of support. Even those that do get food stamps can use the extra help. The increase in unemployment has had a large impact on the number of families needing support.”
Families in need are referred to ARK by principals at the island’s primary schools, churches and the crisis centre, as well as other community organizations.
Last year the campaign helped feed 150 families. The aim this year is to provide support to around 250 families.
Ms Nielsen said the campaign, in its fifth year, always attracts strong community support. “The reason why this works so well is it is so tangible,” she said. “You have the bag, you have the shopping list and you can do your part. It is much more meaningful for people than writing a check.”
She said several schools had joined the initiative. Some, like Hope Academy, take their students on field trips to the supermarket to fill the bags.
She added that there were many more families in need of the service than the campaign could provide for, so all goods collected would be used.
For some of the children, the presents they get through the ARK campaign will be the only ones they receive.
“For some of these families, Christmas presents are the furthest things from their mind,” Ms Nielsen said.
She said anyone could add a gift in with the shopping bags and ARK’s volunteers would ensure it went to an appropriate home.
The collection campaign starts Friday, Nov. 22, and runs until Dec. 13. People can collect bags from Camana Bay now.
Companies that wish to get involved can contact ARK at 323-2287 or email [email protected] Companies or individuals can also hold fundraisers or donate cash to pay for the food vouchers.