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Hope Gospel Assembly targets 150 scholarships

Church staging popular back-to-school fair Aug 16

Sunday, August 10, 2014    

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FOR the sixth consecutive year, hundreds of children whose parents are facing economic difficulties will receive school supplies from Hope Gospel Assembly, as the Church continues its quest to ensure that children are educated.

This year, the back-to-school fair is being held on Saturday, August 16 on the church's Old Hope Road premises in Liguanea, St Andrew under the theme 'Every child deserves to have a dream'.

"The reason for that theme is that we recognise that dropping out of school is an ever-growing problem among inner-city children in particular these days," explained the church's senior pastor, Rev Peter Garth.

Many parents, he said, can't afford to send their children to school every day.

"So what we're really saying is that when kids have a dream, they quickly see how important it is to stay in school, but they have to have that dream," Rev Garth told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

A major feature of the fair is the awarding of scholarships. Last year, Garth and his team, headed by Marsha Palmer, handed out 145 scholarships, ranging in value from $5,000 for students at the prep and primary school levels, to $25,000.

"This year we are looking to hand out a total of 150 scholarships," Garth said, adding that of that number 30 will go to children from poor households in St Ann.

The inclusion of St Ann, Garth explained, was at the request of Rev Fitzroy Thomas, head of the Jamaica Evangelistic Mission.

"He asked me if we could help him in some areas in St Ann, so we are trying to help 300 kids there," he said.

The scholarships and school supplies are provided by a long list of companies and individual sponsors, among them Organo Gold, Sagicor, ScotiaBank Jamaica, National Commercial Bank, Jamaica National Building Society, Victoria Mutual Building Society, Jamaica Broilers, Amba Dockside Technology, Dr Neil Gardner of Gardner Chiropractic Neurology, Tony and June Wong of Liguanea Drug and Garden Centre, Cheryl Chong of General Food Supermarket, Joseph's (King Street), and Coast To Coast.

The schoolbags, Rev Garth said, are from Edu-Pac in the United States, as well as Liguanea Drug and Garden Centre, while Kingston Bookshop, which has been a sponsor from the first year, provides vouchers.

"We have Jamaicans from as far as Dubai who, after reading the Observer's coverage of last year's fair, contacted us offering to help and they have asked for the date this year because they want to contribute again," Garth said.

The distribution of school supplies will run from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, with a break at 10:00 am for guest speaker, National Security Minister Peter Bunting, and the presentation of the scholarships.

Garth said that the popularity of the fair has resulted in people lining up from as early as 5:00 am. "The crowd is massive," he said, adding that at least 1,000 people attended last year.

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