Teenager Elisabeth Bise has stepped into her big sister’s shoes this year to manage the annual Christmas toy drive, which helps ensure every child in Cayman has a gift to open on Christmas day.
The 25 Days of Christmas campaign was established by Victoria Bise in 2008 when she was just 13. Since Victoria is now studying overseas, the campaign is being managed by 13-year-old Elisabeth.
The youngster is requesting that people donate new, unwrapped gifts for babies through teens. A drop off point has been set up at the Cayman Islands Customs Agency on Godfrey Nixon Way. Alternatively, arrangements can be made for group donations to be picked up.
Elisabeth says that thanks to the generosity of the Cayman community more than 700 gifts were received one year, enough for each child under the care of the Department of Family and Children Services to open a gift on Christmas day.
“We distribute to the Family and Children Services, the Pediatric Ward at George Town Hospital and foster homes and baby day care centers when we have enough donations and toys to share,” Elisabeth explains. “This is one of my favorite times when I get to spend time with the children and play and read them stories.”
Elisabeth says that her older sister set up the toy drive after she woke up one day, realized how extremely lucky in life she was and decided she wanted to give back to others.
“We feel very close to children due to our ages,” Elisabeth says. “This is why this is a cause I want to keep growing awareness for, as some people don’t realize the feeling children experience when they have no gift to open on Christmas morning. I feel it is my responsibility toward all those children to continue this cause I care so much about.”
While any toy is always welcome, Elisabeth stresses that she often receives many toys for babies, leaving fewer gifts for teenagers. For those stuck on what to buy, Elisabeth suggests gift certificates, handbags, shirts, costume jewelry and items of clothing. Cash donations are also welcome, which Elisabeth uses to buy additional gifts.
The deadline for donations is Monday, Dec. 16. Email [email protected], or call 926-5599, 925-5707, or, after school hours, 925-2348.