Island Grill, Wisynco combine to make 5,000 happy

Companies donate $1m, toys to Mustard Seed’s Christmas treat for the poor

BY KIMONE FRANCIS Observer online reporter

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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ON Christmas Day, the Mustard Seed Communities will be able to feed more than 5,000 inner-city children and golden agers, thanks to a $1-million donation from a partnership between the Island Grill fast-food chain and Wisynco Group Limited.

The donation will offset expenses for Mustard Seed’s annual Christmas Day Treat, which is in its 18th year, and which is scheduled to begin as early as 8:00 am.

Thalia Lyn, chief executive officer of Island Grill, explained to guests at the presentation ceremony yesterday, at the Island Grill restaurant in Washington Boulevard SuperCentre, that the funds were raised in a ‘Make Christmas Happy’ promotion.

She said that for every purchase of a large drink in a Coca-Cola Christmas souvenir cup, a portion of that money would go towards the donation for the Christmas Treat.

"The idea was that we give beautiful souvenir cups… Wisynco and Coca-Cola helped us to pay for the cups so we were able to give them to the customers free and what we said at Island Grill is that part-proceeds of any beverage bought in this cup would go towards Mustard Seed’s Christmas Treat and I hope that we can make it a tradition," Lyn said.

In urging other companies to get on board, she added that: "If you’re only giving back because you feel to, that isn’t going to work. When you give back from your heart it makes you feel so good, that’s why you give back, because you feel as if you’re actually doing something worthwhile."

Lyn said in addition to the funds, the children will be presented with toys donated by both Canadian High Commissioner Robert Ready and his family, British High Commissioner David Fitton and his family, along with Sandals Foundation, and the staff at Island Grill, even though the target of 5,000 toys has not yet been achieved.

She said that the drive and need to help out have transcended three generations and she hopes they will persist, emphasising, "We didn’t start off feeding 5,000 people, but we can grow and grow if we get the word out there through the media."

Francois Chalifour, director of marketing at Wisynco, in lauding the initiative, added that his company’s belief in partnerships was the primary reason the decision was made to "jump on board".

They also envisioned that "it would be a great idea to participate in the whole charitable endeavour".

Mustard Seed founder Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon, in accepting the cheque on behalf of the charity, reminded the people present and those involved in the donation that it is important for their efforts to spread. "This is a time to spread this kind of graciousness and generosity, and it is real," he said.

"It is not something that’s contrived, so I would like to thank all of you who participated [because] it is not easy to get 5,000 meals together…" Ramkissoon insisted, however, that more needs to be done in an effort to assist Jamaica’s less fortunate.

"I would like to see more companies coming on board and not just through Mustard Seed; they could do it on their own; get together in the other towns and do it.

It is a big deal for the children and the people in the inner city," he said.

The presentation ended with children from the Mustard Seed Communities performing the well-known African-American Christmas spiritual Go Tell It On The Mountain.

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