Heart-warming treat leaves children, teachers brimming with excitement
OCHO RIOS, St Ann — In the spirit of the holidays, approximately 170 Sandals Foundation volunteers from Beaches Ocho Rios and Sandals Ochi Beach Resort transformed into vibrant Santa elves and helpers, sending joy into schools and communities through their Christmas Treat and Toy distribution.
The annual toy distribution is made possible through a long-standing partnership between the philanthropic organisation United States-based toy company, Hasbro, and the commitment of every team member of the luxury-included Sandals and Beaches resorts.
More than 1,300 children from 12 different schools and four communities were treated to a lively and enchanting gathering filled with laughter and excitement.
Lyndsay Isaacs, volunteer from Sandals Foundation, witnessing the sheer delight on the faces of the children, was a reward beyond words.
“Being part of an organisation that prioritises community and holiday joy is truly heart-warming. We start each treat with a little worship sharing the importance of Christmas and find out what it means to the children. After which we sing Christmas carols, just in time for Santa and his elves to appear, this is usually welcomed with a loud uproar of screams of excitement. Santa and his elves are kept busy distributing toys and snacks to each child, topping it off with a host of hugs and ‘high-fives’. It’s moments like these that make our teamwork and dedication feel even more meaningful.”
The children and their teachers could not contain their excitement. Mitsie Phillips-Richards, principal at Mile End Basic School, explained, “This Christmas treat is not just a celebration, it has put a smile on the faces of all the children. I speak on behalf of my staff, students, and parents to express heartfelt gratitude. This visit has made a big difference to the children’s day and will positively impact their lives.”
Charles Blacher, general manager for Beaches Ocho Rios, shared, “Our commitment to spreading joy during the holiday season extends beyond hospitality. We are honoured to have shared the magic of Christmas with over 100 bright smiles today at Stewart Town Basic School. “It’s a rewarding feeling especially for our team members when we go in the communities or schools from which they are from, and to see their own children and the opportunity they have to bring joy to their communities. It’s not just about the gifts, it’s about creating cherished moments and building a sense of community.”
Entertainment coordinator at Beaches Ocho Rios, Cheryl Facey was elated to be one of Santa’s elves at the Gully Road Community Christmas treat and to surprise her children.
“I feel so special today to be with volunteers from Sandals Ochi and Beaches Ocho Rios bringing on joy of the holidays and distributing toys and snacks to all the children here in my community, including mine. This is the true spirit of Christmas! Thank you, Beaches for giving me this opportunity.”
And for seven-year-old Jake Jones from Windsor Basic School, he beamed with joy, saying, “Today was the best day ever! I got to see Santa and got my favourite Peppa Pig toy and snacks to eat. Thank you, Sandals Foundation!”
Over the festive season, more than 15,000 children across the Caribbean were beaming with joy as they were gifted with toys and games in exquisitely planned Christmas treats just in time for the holidays.