(CMR) Civil and public servants, members of Cabinet and Caucus, and members of the public came together and fulfilled over 300 Christmas wishes by purchasing and placing gifts and vouchers under the Cayman Islands Government Giving Tree this year.
His Excellency Governor Martyn Roper and the Deputy Governor Hon. Franz Manderson handed over the items on Wednesday, 15 December, to representatives of the Department of Counselling Services, Department of Children and Family Services, and the Needs Assessment Unit. The items will be distributed to the agencies’ clients.
The hand-over was the culmination of a drive in which the Departments placed tags naming specific items that persons could provide as gifts. The call went out for government staff and the wider community to select a tag and fulfill that wish. Individuals responded and, in some cases, pooled together to provide the items.
Governor Roper expressed his delight at being present for the hand-over and to see the response.
“This is a truly wonderful initiative organized by the Civil Service,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing we can all do at this time of year to help those people who are most in need in our society. To look at this now, you can see there’s a huge number of different presents plus gift vouchers, which I’m sure will brighten the lives of people over this festive period, so my congratulations to everyone involved in organizing this initiative.”
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said: “Again, I’m so proud to see how the Civil Service and the wider Public Service have responded to an opportunity to give persons, who otherwise may not have a merry Christmas, a very merry Christmas by giving back, by giving something.”
He stressed, “It means a lot to me to see the generosity here this morning.”
The Needs Assessment Unit’s Deputy Director Melissa Smith commented on the positive signal the initiative sends.
“This is an excellent initiative. It is one that lets our clients and the most vulnerable persons in our community know that not only our Unit but the Government on a whole, and the community, also provide support to them, also care about them. This initiative shows that we are committed to making the lives of those we serve better,” Smith said.
Department of Counselling Services’ Clinical Supervisor Charmaine Miller explained the role that the Giving Tree donations play in the Department’s programming: “The gifts that have been received this time around are specifically targeted at our at-risk mothers. Our Young Parents Program targets vulnerable moms between the ages of 13 and 25 who access the program for employability and mainly for parenting support so that they can develop healthy bonds with their newborns. We do a lot of self-discovery work with them, so we’re really excited about this initiative.
“It’s a great opportunity to support them, especially during such difficult times. The fact that our young mothers can have this and not have to be concerned about purchasing gifts or trying to figure out how to financially support their newborns and other kids that they may have, this is really easing off some of that financial pressure that they may be experiencing right now. A lot of our moms are unemployed; they’re currently seeking employment and need this kind of financial assistance. We’re really excited that this initiative has been able to meet that need.”
Davin Barrett, Finance Manager of the Department of Children and Family Services, explained: “Our clients have a plethora of needs, from financial needs, from basic necessities. So, our focus for gifts this year was on the children of our clients.”
He added: “Generosity is not something that comes naturally; it’s something we learn from others. So, we at the Department are extremely grateful for the generosity that has been displayed this year with the myriad donations that we have received. We thank the community, we thank the donors, for their contribution to this drive. Our clients will be extremely appreciative and grateful.”