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University students give back to primary schools

Sunday, February 04, 2018

UNIVERSITY students Janiel Bryan and Sha nica Thyme have been busy doing philanthropic work. The young women became acquainted through Greenheart International, an organisation which facilitates cultural exchange programmes, personal development opportunities, volunteer service initiatives and environmental advocacy projects.

Greenheart sponsored the two for the student work and travel programme, and encouraged them to do charity work. Bryan, a student of The University of West Indies, chose to work at a shelter for abused women in Michigan, USA, and both students joined forces to conduct a book drive for schools in Kingston.

According to Bryan, it is mandatory for a Greenheart ambassador to do charity projects to finalise the sponsorship. While working in Mackinaw City, Michigan, she selected the Diane Peppler Resource Centre for her outreach.

“It is a centre for women who have experienced domestic violence. They offer temporary housing and counselling services. I collected things for the women such as sanitary napkins, diapers for the babies, car seats, formula and toiletries. Anything that a woman or a baby could use, I collected and donated,” she said.

“Some of the things I purchased with my own money because I was working. Some of the things were donated by my employers, co-workers and friends over there,” she explained, referring to her stints with Knights Inn Hotels and BC Pizza.

“They knew that I was on the ambassador programme and that I had to do a project, so they gave willingly,” she added.

The fact that Thyme attends the University of Technology did not stop the two from collaborating to do a book drive for Franklyn Town Primary and Dupont Primary, Thyme's alma mater in Kingston.

Thyme, a fourth-year business administration student, donated textbooks for the grade six students at Dupont. Students in the other grades received notebooks and stationery.

“We wanted to do it (textbooks) for other grades but the cost of the books limited us. So we focused on grade six because they are doing GSAT. We also did a presentation on transitioning to high school and the challenges they may face,” she said.

“This was important because very often students start high school and they don't know how to adjust properly. They are approached by students with different personalities and sometimes they get lost...”

She said as a past student she knew first-hand that the school was in need of certain resources.

Franklyn Town was Bryan's selection. Through her voluntary work at the school as a teaching assistant last year, she became aware of the needs.

The two believe in helping others, especially Bryan, because she herself received assistance while attending St Mary's College.

“Throughout high school I was assisted by the school. I got help with lunch and bus fares sometimes when my parents couldn't afford it. I was assisted primarily by people who saw a need to give back to the school. So I made it my point of duty to assist in whatever way possible,” the international relations student explained.

Greenheart donated US$1,000 to the book drive.