Charity spreads Christmas kindness

Tara Nielsen, of Acts of Random Kindness, right, hands over a voucher to Shirlene, left, and Lana Zelaya. – photo: Taneos Ramsay

For Shirlene Zelaya, Christmas will be a little less stressful this year.

Miss. Zelaya took delivery of a $500 Foster’s grocery store gift voucher yesterday, part of charity Acts of Random Kindness’ Feed Cayman Christmas campaign. The charity is enlisting community support to provide food vouchers to around 400 families in the run up to Christmas.

Foster’s has sponsored two families, including the Zelayas, for a bumper $500 donation.

Ms. Zelaya, who is a full-time carer to her ill sister, Lana, said the money would make a huge difference over the holidays.

“It means a whole lot, I’m so grateful for it,” she said.

“My sister gets a little assistance from government, but by the time I have paid the light bill and put some food in the cupboards there is not much left.

“This will be able to buy groceries and wipes and other supplies for two or three months, and can save some money for the other bills.”

Many of the recipients of ARK’s vouchers, from a list of its regular clients and names referred by social services and primary school principals, are in similar positions.

For some, the vouchers might mean the chance to have a proper Christmas dinner or put at least one gift under the tree for their children.

For others it will simply ease the burden of keeping the cupboards stocked over the holidays.

“It is not about having extra at Christmas, it is about simply having something, “ said Tara Nielsen, who runs ARK.

“For some families it alleviates some of the stress over the holidays. They can try to enjoy Christmas and make sure the children have at least one present.”

In previous Christmas campaigns ARK has asked donors to collect groceries and donate presents, but Ms. Nielsen said the vouchers were easier logistically and allowed families to get what they needed.

“What people want is a gift certificate. They can buy some fresh produce and they can go and choose a gift their children really want,” she said.

Gift vouchers from $25 up are available at all major supermarkets and can be dropped at Cayman HospiceCare, Cayman Clinic or at the visitor center at Camana Bay, which is sponsoring the campaign.