The porcelain figurines were dusted, the floors were mopped, the conch-edged gardens straightened and raked. A fresh coat of yellow paint gleamed smartly in the sun.
Individually, their efforts may not have seemed so monumental. Certainly, those we talked with did not seem to think they were making a particularly noteworthy contribution – after all, what’s a few hours spent flicking a paintbrush or pushing a broom? But there was no disputing the fact that the historic home sparkled under their collective attentions.
In an important sense those volunteers – and the legion of volunteers who shoulder the immense load of work that makes this such a magical time – ARE Christmas in the Cayman Islands. We cannot – nor would we want to – imagine the season without them.
It takes dozens of committed volunteers to coordinate and conduct each one of our islands’ dizzying array of holiday toy drives, food drives, bazaars and bake sales, Christmas markets and craft fairs, concerts, plays and visits with Santa. Wherever crowds gather, you can be sure that it took an army of behind-the-scenes workers, donors and coordinators to make the experience such a joyous event.
Cayman is especially blessed with an abundance of Christmastime celebrations – many, if not most, offered to the public free of charge. As any church, school, community, charitable group or holiday campaigner can attest, without the combined Herculean efforts of donors and volunteers, those festive offerings simply could not take place.
In return, Cayman’s scores of volunteers are paid not in money, but in appreciation and the personal satisfaction of contributing. That is valuable currency, though it be intangible. As Cayman National Cultural Foundation Education Officer Virginia Foster told us on Friday, “All the volunteers that come have said that they got back more than they gave.”
If there is one dark spot on this luminous landscape, it is that more volunteers do not join their ranks. Perhaps they feel they have nothing to offer. We can assure them, there is much to do – and such a variety of needs and causes that every person can find his or her niche.
Whether it is selling tickets for a raffle, baking cookies for a fair, donating equipment, supplies or expertise or sprucing up a cultural landmark, every small effort becomes part of a greater movement toward a greater good. More than joy; more than Christmas spirit, the generosity and caring of Cayman’s volunteers form some of the building blocks of a harmonious and caring community.
The wise advise that we should “create the world we want to live in.” Cayman’s community-minded volunteers do exactly that.