Bolt, Digicel brighten Trelawny village with giftsSunday, December 27, 2020
BY HORACE HINES
SHERWOOD CONTENT, Trelawny – Residents of this western Jamaica community were in for a pleasant surprise when their most celebrated native, the legendary sprinter Usain Bolt, along with his team and Digicel representatives literally turned up at their doorsteps bearing loads of Christmas gifts last Wednesday.
In recent years, Bolt and Digicel have teamed up to stage a massive children's treat on the grounds of the iconic athlete's alma mater, Waldensia Primary and Infant School, in this community on Boxing Day, but due to COVID-19 protocols which prohibit large gatherings, the eagerly anticipated, annual event had to be scrapped.
But speaking with the Jamaica Observer during a brief break from participating in the distribution of Christmas gifts to children and care packages to the numerous households, the eight-time Olympic gold medallist argued that with the hardships triggered by the pandemic, this year's treat bears more significance to him than previous years.
“For me it means even more now. COVID has (negatively) impacted a lot of people's lives. I have seen that and we were determined this year to make sure to figure out a way to get enough toys for the kids because they are going through a difficult time. It's good to get a Christmas gift, especially at this time,” Bolt expressed.
His manager and boyhood friend Nugent Walker outlined that the house-to-house distribution of toys and care packages was a most appropriate substitution for the annual Boxing Day treat.
“It is a good way for Usain, even though the pandemic is on and we can't have the general treat we thought it was nice to pop up at homes, visit some of the elderly, some of the vulnerable, and provide them with care packages which contain a range of basic food items and toiletries,” Walker explained.
“It is a good little vibes to just give back. We know it is challenging for a lot of people. When they heard the treat wasn't taking place they were a little disappointed but we kept it a secret and just popped up and did this.”
Digicel's Public Relations Manager Elon Parkinson noted that “in the spirit of sharing more this Christmas, we are supporting the largest ever number of Christmas treats involving our brand ambassadors.
“This, because the needs are even greater, especially during this time,” Parkinson told the Sunday Observer.
“Usain represents our philosophy of caring for and sharing with the people and communities we serve. This is why we're always proud to be part of this annual exercise.
“And with being merry also meaning being safe, we have devised this innovative way to deliver Christmas cheer while keeping the children and their loved ones safe throughout,” Parkinson commented.
Edgar Harrison, an active community worker in Sherwood Content, noted that the house-to-house giveaways were more appreciated by some residents than the traditional Boxing Day treat.
“Walking through the street after he (Bolt) left, many of the adults said they preferred this time than when he came to the school, because when he went to the school it was mostly children who went out and got gifts, but a lot of shut-ins... a lot of elders were able to get things from him this time around. They really appreciated it,” revealed Harrison.
“It was a shocker for some persons. Persons who did not know that they were coming were pleasantly surprised but they were glad for him to come in and did what he did. They residents really appreciated it,” Harrison added.
The residents were also provided with personal protective equipment against the coronavirus and Bolt used the opportunity to appeal to the nation to comply with the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the Government.
“I have always tried to adhere to the protocols and even my new year's party I always keep, I have said to the people who are saying that I should keep it... No, this is what the prime minister says, this is the country's law and I am not going to break any law to have a party.
“So I would say to people, understand that even though you feel restricted you have to respect that COVID is not something to be taken lightly. So adhere to the restrictions this holiday season,” added Bolt, who tested positive for the disease weeks ago.
He said he will use the holiday season to stay home with his family.
“No party for me this year I am just going to relax with the family. So it works out well, spend more quality time with the young one,” Bolt said of his daughter Olympia, who was born in May of this year.
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