THE Crayons Count initiative last week started making good on its promise to supply a standard set of learning tools to all basic and infant schools across Jamaica that have applied for registration with the Early Childhood Commission.
The first delivery was made to West Indies Basic School on Camp Road in Kingston and was gratefully received by principal Monica Glashin.
"It means a lot," Glashin is quoted in a news release from National Baking Company Limited, the major sponsor of the initiative. "It will enhance the development of the children morally, spiritually and physically. The toys will help with dexterity, creativity and fine motor skills."
Approximately 2,500 schools are set to receive the kits over the upcoming weeks, and delivery trucks are now on the road destined for other schools in Kingston and St Andrew.
National Baking Company said school administrators need not be concerned about the exact date of the delivery as they will be contacted prior to the delivery to ensure that they can be on hand to accept the kits when the trucks arrive.
"Due to the large number of schools involved, it is expected that it will take some five to six weeks to complete all deliveries across the island," the company said.
Deika Morrison of Do Good Jamaica, a charitable NGO, started the Crayons Count initiative late 2011 when she realised that basic and infant schools were working without basic educational tools. The plight of these early childhood schools was taken to Butch Hendrickson, CEO of National Baking Company, who quickly embraced the programme and was instrumental in making the Crayons Count project a reality.
"The best investment that can be made is in that of a child's life," Hendrickson said.
National Baking Company said that the initiative was supported by the private sector and the Jamaican diaspora, among them well-known brands such as Sandals Foundation, Digicel Jamaica Foundation, CB Foods, Rainforest Seafoods, Zoukie Trucking, American Airlines, and the US Embassy.
While other donations fully funded the purchase of three of the 13 items for the kits, National Baking Co Ltd, the single largest donor to the campaign, bought 10 of the 13 items in the kits in sufficient quantities for the over 100,000 children who will benefit.
This has allowed for all basic schools to have standardised materials for the first time ever. To date, National has exceeded its commitment of $30 million to Crayons Count.
Apart from purchasing items for the kits, National Baking Company played a major role in other ways by housing five containers of Crayons Count supplies in its warehouse where the packing of boxes with educational kits are now well underway.
In addition, with more than 700 National Bakery employees to pull on, there has been a steady stream of volunteers working assiduously in the packing of the boxes for the schools.
To ensure that the supplies reach the schools within a timely fashion, National's bread and biscuit trucks will deliver the boxes directly to schools as they travel their routes across the island.
The company said that it was its hope, and that of its partners, that by ensuring teachers and students are equipped with these necessary tools, further educational gaps will be prevented, thereby allowing future generations of Jamaicans to transition into society with a strong educational background.
Acknowledging that nation building is a collaborative effort, National said that in this its 60th year, it will continue its mission to initiate and support efforts geared towards ensuring national growth.