A group of students is having an impact on the lives of children who travel from Haiti for heart procedures in Cayman.
Over the past week, Impact 345, a charity club formed by students at Cayman International School, collected clothing, shoes, school supplies and toys for four Haitian children, ages 2, 5, 8 and 15, at Health City Cayman Islands.
“It feels nice, being a part of something that makes a difference in the community and to the kids from Haiti, who I know are not as fortunate as we are,” said Janelle Woods, a member of the club. “I love seeing their faces when we give them all the bags of gifts and clothes that we received as donations. I love how nice it makes everyone feel. It makes it all worth it.”
In October 2014, the first Haitian charitable cases arrived at Health City to undergo cardiac procedures. These procedures are covered by Health City with the assistance of Have A Heart, a philanthropic organization formed by Harry Chandi and Manu Chatlani.
Flights for the patients, their chaperones and interpreter were provided by Digicel.
Impact 345 started when Holly Thompson, the teenage daughter of Health City developer Gene Thompson, began spending time with a young patient from Jamaica and the first group of children from Haiti and learned of some of their needs.
She then began to invite friends and classmates to go to Health City with her. As more joined, they decided to name their group Impact 345.
“It’s definitely one of the best, if not the best experience that I have personally witnessed,” she said. “It feels good when the kids are happy. Even seeing the kids smile makes me happy.
“When they received the supplies that were collected by Impact 345, they were so happy, and I can’t even begin to express the absolute joy that I felt just helping them out. It’s just an amazing atmosphere in general, and I am so happy I have the privilege to be a part of Impact 345 and to experience these things.”
In the beginning, the group asked close friends and family members to help with donations. The group also put its specific list of items on social media to get help from more people. A few toys were collected to entertain the children during their hospital stay, but the group mainly focused on necessities such as clothing and school supplies.
After gathering the items, the group packed backpacks and other bags and took them to the children when they were well enough to receive visitors.
The main focus of Impact 345 is visiting the children and assisting with some of their needs when they travel to Health City for cardiac procedures. When the group is not busy with its Health City project, the members volunteer with other charities in Cayman, such as Meals on Wheels and Cayman HospiceCare.
“Impact 345 is an amazing way for us to start to make an impact on the Cayman Islands. Also, it’s a great way to meet new people around your age,” said Sofia Eldemire, 14.
“We also go to Health City and interact with the kids there, and bring little toys that people have donated to us,” she said. “We pack them in little cute backpacks and travel there and give to them personally. I always love seeing their eyes go big when they see all the little toys; it warms my heart.”