Santa brings Christmas cheer to North Side Primary

MUFG's Jess Deegenaars with Edna M. Moyle students.

The students of North Side’s Edna M. Moyle Primary School got a special Christmas treat, thanks to a visit from Santa and his helpers.

MUFG employees headed to the school on Dec. 16, bringing toys collected through a companywide drive and delivered by Santa.

“MUFG associate James Murray had acted as Santa to the North Side and East End schools in years past and wanted to extend the gift-giving tradition and opportunity for the MUFG team to participate,” said MUFG’s Jess Deegenaars, who helped organize the event.

MUFG is an investor services company in Cayman.

“I started the toy drive four years ago after having the privilege of playing Santa for East End Primary as part of community initiative organized by a former co-worker who grew up in that part of the island,” said Mr. Murray.

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“On the drive home, I inquired about the Christmas Day experience for the students we had just visited, and was disturbed to find out that Santa wouldn’t visit many of them. In fact, I found it completely unacceptable given the abundance found in other parts of the island.

“Plus, truth be told, I wasn’t very keen on the idea that I had basically just teased a hundred children with a wonderful concept that they weren’t likely to experience.”

Mr. Murray said with the help of a network of community contacts, he was able to organize the first toy drive in just a few weeks, and was determined to keep up the momentum, despite being overseas for a few years.

Reception students unwrap their presents.

Ms. Deegenaars noted that MUFG Managing Director Monette Windsor and the senior management team led by example and embraced the project by breaking away from their annual gift-giving tradition and directing the donated money to buying gifts for schoolchildren.

“MUFG has historically chosen a charity or way to contribute to the community during the holiday season. This year, when James approached me about his idea of the toy drive for North Side, I thought it was a wonderful way to celebrate the season of giving,” said Ms. Windsor.

Toys were collected, sorted for age, gender and class, and then wrapped for the MUFG “elves” to deliver to the school. With the children gathered in the school hall, Santa gave each child a gift.

“The smiles and joy on the kids’ faces were so precious. There are certain times in your life that your heart is filled with so much joy that you know you’ll remember it forever … this was one of those times. Having the children sing ‘Caymanian Christmas’ was one of those moments.”

Mr. Murray says that the special moments and happiness that the event delivers are by far the highlight of his holiday season, and he cannot wait for next year.

“After we had handed out the individually wrapped and tagged toys to the children, a little boy came up to me to thank me for his new scooter. He was so happy. The look on his face is still with me,” said Mr. Murray. “He had wanted a scooter for over two years and on Friday he finally had one. He told me he had two wishes for Christmas this year. His first was to get a scooter, which had just happened.

“He asked me if I knew what his second wish was, and I said I did not, but do tell. His response was that he wanted Santa to bring toys to all of the poor children in the world.

“I told him it was a wonderful wish, I hope it comes true and I’m trying my best. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to change the world of the less fortunate, which can be as easy as donating a toy or gift, but as simple as it sounds, we still have to take the time do perform these simple acts. I’m so appreciative of the MUFG employees for taking the time to make this year’s toy drive happen.”

Ms. Deegenaars said MUFG hoped to do the same next year and bring gifts to all the children at North Side Primary, as well as at East End Primary.

“With so much to be thankful for this holiday season, we are blessed with a wonderful opportunity to give back to the great community we call home; an opportunity to do something special this holiday season and deliver a little holiday magic,” said Ms. Deegenaars.


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