'Free Likkle Cupboard' gives back to Jamaicans in needSunday, January 23, 2022
BY SAVANNAH MCDONALD
The 'Free Likkle Cupboard' has created a simple way to donate to those in need all year round as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen the financial struggles of some Jamaicans.
Founded by De-Andrea Jackson and Kyle Reynolds, the 'Free Likkle Cupboard' is a non-profit initiative that began on September 21, 2020, gaining inspiration from the global free pantry movement. Guided by the tagline 'Tek a likkle, give a likkle', the goal is to build Free Likkle cupboards across all parishes and create a culture where people look out for each other by donating to the less fortunate.
“It has been on my vision board since 2019 and once the pandemic started to take its toll on us all, especially the most vulnerable communities, I decided this was the time to start a free cupboard movement in Jamaica, to try and help people in need,” Jackson told OBSERVER ONLINE.
With currently seven cupboards established across St Elizabeth, Portland, Kingston and St Andrew, the team is on a mission to encourage Jamaicans to donate as many items as possible to those in need.
Items such as non-perishable food, personal hygiene products, school supplies and books can be donated.
“The cupboards at the UWI Community Health & Psychiatry Clinic and at the Junction Health Centre carry only sanitary products as this is a partnership with What Women Want Jamaica who aims to eradicate period poverty in Jamaica by providing access to free menstrual products in public clinics,” explained Jackson.
The cupboard at Rae Town is a partnership with Kingston Creative and Operation Help the People which only carries school supplies, art supplies, books and small toys aimed at stimulating youth development and encouraging artistic talents from a young age.
The Free Likkle Cupboard is treated as a second job as the founders work hard to keep improving this passion project.
“The workload gets considerably higher during the Christmas season as we aim every year to keep the cupboards stocked for the entire festive season,” Jackson said.
In an effort to secure as many donations as possible the team uses bright, colourful, playful graphics on the cupboards. A lot of time is also spent on promotional material for social media, collecting donations from organisations or individuals, purchasing items and physically restocking all the cupboards.
This experience has brought a lot of joy into the lives of some in vulnerable communities.
“At first, it was just knowing that it would help lighten the load for vulnerable communities in need, but this Christmas season, I saw how it brought the Rae Town community together, and how happily a little girl spoke to me about a book she read from the cupboard,” expressed Jackson. The team has also received multiple thank you notes left in the cupboard from persons expressing their appreciation and letting them know how much it has helped.
Despite its positive impact so far, finding the right location for the cupboards has been difficult.
“We want to ensure that the cupboards are not only in spaces where they can serve the vulnerable but also in spaces where the community will take care of them and donate to them as well, striking that balance is sometimes difficult,” explained Jackson.
It has also been a struggle to find the right partners to help maintain cupboards and act as reference points for how groups and communities interact with these cupboards.
“We also have a few greedy persons who take without regard for others but that won't deter us from continuing with our mission,” Jackson said.
Making these cupboards with limited resources is also expensive with an average cost of $25,000-30,000. This includes materials such as paint, lumber, glass knobs, logo decal and relevant signage. This figure does not include transportation and installing the cupboards at each location.
Regardless, the team is determined to continue doing what they can to assist vulnerable communities.
“I have always been drawn to giving back to society in a positive way, from as early as in my high school years. I grew up in a kind household, and doing socially beneficial activities will always be part of my vision board and how I identify and express myself in this world,” said Jackson.
You may contribute to this worthy cause by donating directly to a location, using an online supermarket or by contacting @thefreelikklecupboard on Instagram for other ways to give back. The team is also working on establishing a method for the public to make monetary donations.
'Free Likkle Cupboard' Locations
1. Irie Racing Motoshop, 37, Shortwood Road, Kingston, Jamaica
2. Ragamuffin Cafe 74, Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston, Jamaica
3. Community Health & Psychiatry Clinic, the University of the West Indies
4. Acai Cafe, Long Bay, Portland, Jamaica
5. Freedom Skate Park, Bull Bay, St Andrew
6. Rae Town Football Field, Kingston
7. Junction Health Centre, Junction St Elizabeth