It’s the season of giving back

By Ron Shillingford


With the festive season upon us, helping charities and worthy causes is more on the minds of kind residents of the Cayman Islands. Giving back to the sick, needy and less fortunate is one aspect of the Christmas spirit that Caymanians are renowned for. Indeed, Christmas is the time for philanthropy and there is no better gift than helping a laudable cause.


Here are a few ways you can give back this Christmas


Help Cayman’s four-legged friends

The Cayman Islands Humane Society is a popular spot where animal lovers can foster, adopt, or take a dog for a walk. Volunteers are always needed to work in the bookstore, thrift shop, animal shelter or in fundraising. As Paula from One Dog at a Time says, "without volunteers we can't operate. Volunteers foster our rescue dogs, staff the thrift shop, help us at our events and act as flight escorts. No work we do can be done without volunteer support." Donations are always needed. Other popular animal welfare organisations include One Dog at a Time and Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts (CARE).


Cayman Islands Humane Society Director Saskia Salden says there are many ways to help and give back, "Want to volunteer? We need volunteers to provide lots of TLC for the many dogs and cats we have at the shelter. We appreciate everybody is busy but giving back is so important and rewarding! We hope that once you sign up, you will become a regular volunteer. We are always full, always have pups, dogs, cats and kittens who need additional socializing so it’s vital they can interact and learn to trust humans again or just have fun playing fetch in our playfield. You can walk dogs or take a dog to the beach, sit and play with the cats in our cat room, help with the laundry, assist with events and fundraising, volunteer at the book-loft or thrift shop, maybe even do some light admin work; there are plenty of options and reasons to sign up to become a volunteer with The Cayman Islands Humane Society! For more info, please visit our website www.caymanislandshumanesociety.com or email info@caymanislandshumanesociety.com"




Offer mentorship

Big Brothers Big Sisters is another great one. Volunteers are matched with children to create mentoring relationships which provides children with the friendship and guidance of an adult. They are actively seeking new volunteers, especially for their ‘Big Brothers’ contingent.


The Community Outreach Programmes supports children in need of mentorship and academic support. It is active in all public schools and caters to more than 1,500 students, aged four to 17. Students are given homework support, maths and literacy tuition, arts and crafts, sports, youth activities and mentoring. The programmes are also in need of donations for school uniforms, school supplies, medication, eye appointments, snacks, stationery and equipment for activities.


Michael Myles, who runs the programme, is always grateful for support from the public, whatever time of year it is. He said: “Donate Christmas gifts or Christmas meals to a family in need. We can never have enough volunteers to mentor young people long-term. We have to get past that people in need only need assistance during Christmas.”


Myles has for years helped Cayman’s youth. He gains immense satisfaction from seeing volunteers giving back to his organisation at Christmas, enjoying it so much and becoming mentors who get involved with children or their families long-term.


Charitable causes

The Breast Cancer Foundation was created to support breast cancer patients and their families. It provides help for those suffering both emotionally and financially and at this time of year, its resources are stretched.



Janette Fitzgerald is chief administrator at the foundation. She said they are always “super busy” as they have over 180 breast cancer patients, survivors and their families looking to the foundation for help.


“We are kept on our toes for sure, I am glad we can do what we do,” Fitzgerald said. “Our patient list grows by at the very least two or three persons per week. I am glad they find us, and we can then help where they need us.”


She said that Christmas is the same for them as any month. “We do have a special support group meeting, more of a celebration but it is not an event where we need volunteers for. It’s a pleasure for us to treat our group in this way and we make it as special as we can. We welcome any donations as far as items we can put in a goodie bag for our attendees to take home with them.”

In past Christmases, kind souls like Melissa Thompson, one year opened her fabulous house to the foundation and was so gracious and kind with her time, decorations, presents for all, “it truly touches my heart when special people do this for our breast cancer patients and survivors.” Fitzgerald added: “I immediately think of three of those attendees who are not with us any more having lost their battles. Those memories are precious.”


She said that the Breast Cancer Foundation work is year-round and it’s hard to pinpoint times at Christmas that are more special than any other time. She said: “Foster’s have for the past two years given us $500 to give to someone we feel would benefit and we always know someone who has had a particularly tough year, especially if they have not been able to work and money is very tight. This money can make a big difference especially when there are children to care for. They too have also had a tough time watching their parent go through their treatments.”


Fitzgerald is grateful to many companies that always give generously. “We receive no government aid and we have to raise all of our own funds. We have our gala dinner each year which raises most of our funds.”

The foundation has volunteers that are always with them, helping with patients going to chemo, cold capping (keeping their hair during chemo treatments), fundraising, events, and marketing.

The foundation’s next event is the Light Up The Night beach walk on March 7 and volunteers are needed.


“We run a year-round awareness programme also, going into schools, colleges, businesses, communities - wherever we are invited, to spread the word on signs, symptoms on breast cancer and how early detection is the key to the very best outcome.”

Jasmine, formerly Cayman HospiceCare, is another non-profit organisation, dedicated to providing comfort care, free of charge, to Cayman residents with cancer or other end-stage diseases. Jasmine costs more than $1,800 per day to operate and is 90 percent funded by fundraising events and donations. Support from the community and volunteers are always welcome. Derek Haines, the celebrated marathon runner, has helped raise over $1 million towards Jasmine’s new centre.

“Christmas is a special time of year where people feel the need to give more - their time, their gifts, and their help,” said Kerrie McMillan, Jasmine’s fundraising and events coordinator.” Jasmine embraces its volunteers all year round, and during the holiday season where activities are in full swing, we call upon them even more.”


Jasmine’s volunteer call-out plea includes requests to help at their annual Light up a Life evening of Remembrance, at Jasmine Villa at 5:30pm on Dec. 3. The following weekend, the Intertrust Marathon on Dec. 8 will see Jasmine have a water stop at the South Sound Dock. They are also partnering with AL Thompson’s to provide gift wrapping.


“We still have volunteer opportunities available,” said McMillan. “If you have a few hours to spare during this busy time of year, please contact Jasmine at 945-7447, or email info@jasmine.ky. We would love to hear from you. This will be your gift to us, and to the Cayman community.”


Give help to Cayman’s seniors

Meals on Wheels provides free, nutritious meals, soups, friendly company and safety checks to seniors, the homebound and disabled. It only takes $5 a day to feed a senior and they rely on the support of the community for donations.

“Our biggest push right now is to get people to Pledge a Senior and gift it to someone at Christmas, so a charity donation on their behalf is ideal,” said Trina Savage, acting general manager. “We also need volunteers for various events throughout the year and back up drivers to fill in for our regularly scheduled events are awesome as well.”





Some of the rewarding moments in the past have been Island Heritage annually agreeing to sponsor a Christmas dinner; The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is sponsoring a meal over the holidays; Ogier is preparing grocery bags to be delivered to seniors over the holidays; Mise en Place have committed to donating 20 holiday feast boxes for some clients who have extended family in need at their dwelling. An anonymous donation of $50K has been given which helps the Meals on Wheels 2020 budget tremendously.


Jasmine, formerly Cayman HospiceCare, is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to providing comfort care, free of charge, to Cayman residents with cancer or other end-stage diseases. Jasmine costs more than $1,800 per day to operate and is 90 percent funded by fundraising events and donations. Support from the community and volunteers are always welcome. Derek Haines, the celebrated marathon runner, has helped raise over $1 million towards Jasmine’s new centre.


“Christmas is a special time of year where people feel the need to give more - their time, their gifts, and their help,” said Kerrie McMillan, Jasmine’s fundraising and events coordinator. ” Jasmine embraces its volunteers all year round, and during the holiday season where activities are in full swing, we call upon them even more.”


Jasmine’s volunteer call-out plea includes requests to help at their annual Light up a Life evening of Remembrance, at Jasmine Villa at 5:30pm on Dec. 3. The following weekend, the Intertrust Marathon on Dec. 8 will see Jasmine have a water stop at the South Sound Dock. They are also partnering with AL Thompson’s to provide gift wrapping.


“We still have volunteer opportunities available,” said McMillan. “If you have a few hours to spare during this busy time of year, please contact Jasmine at 945-7447, or email info@jasmine.ky. We would love to hear from you. This will be your gift to us, and to the Cayman community.”


Other charities to help over Christmas

Cayman’s ARK – Acts of Random Kindness

Cayman AIDS Foundation

Cayman Islands Cancer Society (CICS)

CI Crisis Centre Volunteer Programme

Cayman Islands Red Cross (CIRC)

Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI)

Feed Our Future

Have a Heart Cayman

Jubilate After School Programme

LIFE (Literacy is for Everyone) Ltd.

NCVO Children Services Programmes

National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI)

National Trust for the Cayman Islands

One Dog at a Time (ODAAT)

Pink Ladies Volunteer Corps (PLVC)

Prospect Red Bay Community Group

Volunteering to Support Prison Rehabilitation

YMCA of the Cayman Islands

Bethesda Counselling Centre

CONTACT US:

+1 (345) 936-2205

info@pinkduck.ky 
#105 Windward 3, Regatta Business Park,
West Bay, 
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

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