Career & Education

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Members of rural community launch fund to send needy students back to school

Sunday, August 27, 2017

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Residents of Inverness in St Ann have launched a fund-raising programme to raise $200,000 to provide assistance to students in the community who arehaving challenges with meeting their back-to-school expenses.

Dubbed the 'Youth Empowerment Fund', the programme is in collaboration with the local church, Tooting Hall United.

The organisers explained that they decided to take a more organised approach to offer assistance because they recognise the seriousness of the plight of the youngsters.

“The children in the community are really struggling as they're not able to go to school or to get their books,” explained project manager Maxine Alexander. “We're tired of seeing brilliant children drop out of school, and so we're pleading with Jamaicans to step up and lend a hand. It doesn't have to be much. Every mickle mek a muckle.”

The Youth Empowerment Fund aims to raise funds to provide as many students as possible with resources including book vouchers, school supplies, transportation and lunch vouchers as well as grants for miscellaneous or CSEC exam fees.

Through fund-raising efforts as well as soliciting sponsorship from individuals, the group has so far managed to secure less than half of their overall goal of $200,000 based on the amount of applications and the extent of their needs.

“We have been creative in our fund-raising methods so far, but we are still seeking assistance from members of the public and companies to provide assistance for the students,” Alexander reported.

“We don't want to turn any child in need away, and so we are calling out for Jamaicans here and abroad to lend their support in cash and kind to help send the youngsters back to school in September,” she added.

Alexander stressed that many of the intended recipients are from single-parent homes where the parents, if at all employed, have minimum wage jobs, the resources from which must be shared with several other siblings who are usually also in school. She emphasised that this lack of necessary financial support has often forced students to miss numerous days of school and some eventually drop out of altogether.

As an example, one seventh grade student whose name is withheld, recounted, through tears, the many mornings she would have to stop from school when neighbours were unable to help out with her bus fare and lunch.

“There were times when I would put on my uniform to go to school and have to take it back off because there was no money. I reallywish I didn't have to miss out so much of school,” the student said.

The residents says they are accepting donations via the Tooting Hall United Church Account at the Alexandria branch of the National PC Bank, account number 00316239142.

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