Progressive Grocers and partners help in COVID-19 response

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Progressive Grocers and partners help in COVID-19 response

Food, other vital supplies donated to 30 needy communities

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Observer staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

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APPROXIMATELY 1,000 Jamaicans in some 30 communities across the island, primarily those who are shut-ins, indigent or have lost jobs, began benefiting from a large donation of food, drinking water, sanitary products, and other items donated to four charities operating throughout the country, on Monday.

The organisers — Progressive Grocers of Jamaica Foundation, along with their partners GraceKennedy, National Bakery, Lasco Distributors, Jamaica Grains and Cereals Limited, Confectionery & Snacks Jamaica Ltd, Cari-Med Group, Kirk Distributors, Facey Commodity, Musson Group, and Wisynco Ltd — started distributions Monday afternoon at Progressive Grocers' warehouse in Twickenham Park Estate, St Catherine, where cases of canned food, bottled water, biscuits, tissue, and other items were loaded onto trucks destined for communities in need.

Adult diapers, disinfectants, sanitary napkins, crackers and snacks were also among items donated.

Craig Chin, director of Progressive Grocers, told the Jamaica Observer that the donations are also targeted for homes with children on the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) who are now out of school.

“We are targeting communities that are in need. Obviously, in this time of crisis, we are trying to reach to areas that are in quarantine; areas where there are shut-ins, people who can't come out; the elderly; homes as well as communities with children who depend on PATH and they can't get that now because the schools are all closed,” said Chin.

PATH is a conditional cash transfer programme funded by the Government and the World Bank to deliver cash and bursary grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society.

This being the first wave of donations, Chin said another set of charities will be selected in the coming weeks.

“There are four charities helping us to send these out,” he said. “We are going to help this set of charities and then see who else we can help in the next set,” Chin added.

“Right now, everybody is scared because there is a big question mark out there, 'How long is this going to last?' What we can do now is try to alleviate some of those fears. People are worried about how they are going to feed their children, especially those on PATH, kids who are out of school.

“So however we can, [we will] help to reassure them that we are not closed and we are not going anywhere; and they are not just our customers, they are family. We are going to assist as much as possible and give them some peace of mind.

“The companies that we have partnered with are getting numerous requests from other organisations as well,” he said.

Four foundations — 21st Century, Positive Jamaica, Save our Boys and Girls, and All for Jamaica — are the charities that will be distributing in their respective communities.

Angela Amir, a representative of Twenty First Century Foundation, said their volunteers have been on the ground in St Andrew, Manchester, and St Mary communities, working primarily with the elderly and children.

“We work in districts like Mile Gully, Hagley Park, Maxfield Park, and Cassia Park. You have a lot of shut-ins — indigent people who are very needy. Some of them can't go out to work so we are collecting to distribute to them this week,” Amir said.

“You have districts with people who can't go out any at all, old people who rely on money from abroad, and the children at the Maxfield Park Children's Home who we [are] also assisting them to stock up on food,” she added.

Zavia Walker, a director with Save our Boys and Girls Foundation, said they have primarily been targeting communities under quarantine and, having already distributed care packages in Bull Bay where quarantine restrictions were lifted last Saturday, Walker said the group has since moved on to Cornpiece Settlement in Clarendon, the second community to be placed under quarantine.

“The foundation is geared towards disenfranchised youth but, in this time of crisis, we have extended our services beyond youth. We want to look at helping the elderly, [which] we have been doing in Bull Bay, and we are now working in Cornpiece,” said Walker.

Meanwhile, project coordinator with All for Jamaica Foundation Shaneica Lester said they have been targeting the most vulnerable people in already socially challenged communities, including people living with disabilities and the elderly, as well as low-income earners.

“These are the persons who are dependent on their day-to-day hustle, and because we are practising social distancing, these persons are not able to work to provide for themselves, plus we know a lot of persons have been laid off,” said Lester.

“We find that the vulnerability of these persons in already socially challenged communities has increased because of the impact of social distancing, which hinders their ability to provide for themselves,” she added.


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