SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth - Fast food giant KFC recently joined with the Jamaica Library Service to establish a homework centre and upgrade a reading room at the Santa Cruz Branch Library.
According to a news release, Marketing Director of KFC, Tina Matalon, announced that the company's intervention included refurbishing the designated space with bright colours, kid-friendly furnishings and over 180 new books to stimulate learning.
It is part of an overall project that has involved KFC investing more than $30 million over the past nine years to install 14 Chicky Reading Rooms and Homework Centres throughout the island — one in each parish where the quick service restaurant has a presence. The project was launched in 2003, in collaboration with the Jamaica Library Service (JLS), as KFC's contribution to education and is aimed at providing a comfortable, kid-friendly space at each library to encourage children to read and explore the world of knowledge, the news release said.
"We at KFC are pleased that at each library where we have established a JLS/KFC Chicky Reading Room and Homework Centre. The response has been overwhelming, and today is no exception," Matalon told a large crowd at the Santa Cruz library. She appealed to the youngsters using the library to take care of the fixtures and books so that future students can also benefit from the facility.
Also speaking at the official opening function, director general of the JLS Patricia Roberts — who has been instrumental in guiding the implementation of the programme for more than a decade — described KFC as an outstanding corporate citizen. She said the programme has helped JLS to offer an enhanced service to students who need a quiet space to study, do homework or explore.
Guest speaker at the event Yushaine Morgan, resident attorney-at-law and former marketing co-ordinator at KFC, recalled his school days when the Santa Cruz library provided the resources for him to complete assignments or to just read in a quiet space. He said the library played a significant role in his personal development and in the lives of countless others from the town who have now established themselves as outstanding Jamaicans. Morgan told the youngsters that they, too, could be successful if they focus on their education.
"I used this library and still do to mentor law students. The only difference between then and now is that you have a lot more resources than we did in our time. So, if we could achieve, so can you," Morgan said.
He applauded KFC for giving back to the community in such a significant and sustained way and for playing a part in developing the island's human capacity, especially in education and sports.
"KFC is not one of those companies you learnt about because of the Jamaica 50 celebrations. This company has always been an outstanding corporate citizen which also responds to hundreds of requests from churches, schools and other institutions, in a quiet way and without publicity," Morgan said.
The news release said the company was seeking to broaden the reach of the JLS/KFC Chicky Reading Room and Homework Centre to include beneficiaries beyond libraries. A recent example of this was a joint venture between KFC and Scotiabank to open the Learning Centre at Bustamante Children's Hospital.