SCORES of homeless people and some of St Ann’s most vulnerable residents were treated to hot meals on Monday, January 2 by correctional officer and philanthropist Donovan Small, in collaboration with members of the Bamboo United Pentecostal Church.
Small and his team of 16 volunteers distributed 550 meals across the communities of St Ann’s Bay, Bamboo, Lillyfield and Philadelphia and extended the act of kindness to the Mustard Seed Community in Moneague and Brown’s Town.
The initiative, which is in its ninth year, was supported by Food For the Poor, Ocho Rios Jerk Centre and Campbell’s Supermarket, in Bamboo.
Explaining the reason behind the annual feeding programme, Small said that his love for the society’s most vulnerable had given birth to the philanthropic endeavour, which he intends to continue for a lifetime.
He pointed out that the effort to contribute to the well-being and welfare of senior citizens, disabled children, the homeless and mentally ill brings him sheer joy.
“Every year, I find pleasure doing it and [I want to] thank God for giving me the strength to do it. I told my son and daughter that even when they take me overseas, I am still coming back every year to do it. It started from love, because if you don’t have that love within you… you won’t continue, but I enjoy doing it,” he said.
Twenty-two-year-old medical student at The University of the West Indies, Mona Shanaya Grant, a volunteer, said she was pleased to be a part of an initiative that sought to provide support for those in need.
“My church brother Danny introduced me to it, and from then I wanted to be a part of it, but because of school… I am here for the first time. I love people and it is my heart’s cry to see everybody eating, being healthy and having a good life, having the best that life has to offer,” she said.
She urged Jamaicans to embrace the spirit of volunteerism to help positively impact the lives of the nation’s most vulnerable.
Meanwhile, it was an attitude of gratitude from beneficiaries of the New Year’s Day feeding programme.
Twenty-seven-year-old recipient Paul Lawrence, who lives on the streets of St Ann’s Bay, was happy to receive a meal from Small and his team.
He said he has fallen on hard times and has been finding it difficult to secure a meal on a daily basis.
“Mi feel glad that they show up and give me a food, because me did want a food, still, because me don’t have any work and times kinda hard, so [I am] glad for it,” he said.
Ainsworth Ramsey, who is also homeless, was thankful for the meal. “I just want to say thank you, thank you,” he said.