JP, business community bring Christmas cheer to Effortville
Myrtle Roye, justice of the peace and resident of Effortville, Clarendon, said a recent upsurge in violence in the community had dampened the Christmas spirit. Roye, who has called the community home for over five decades, told The Gleaner that Christmas 2020 was the worst the community had experienced.
Roye expressed that the "lack of Christmas spirit" in Effortville fuelled her decision to partner with charity organisation James and Friends, to bring cheer to Effortville.
A bloody rampage over a 24-hour period claimed the lives of five people. Three others, including a pregnant woman, were also injured in the attack.
"In the community, this year was Christmas with a difference, because of an upsurge in crime leading to five people being killed. So the Christmas spirit was down. The parents were down, the children were down and people started leaving the community for safety," Roye told The Gleaner.
Noting a positive response to the initiative, Roye added, "The main reason I did it is because the community is tense now and I don't believe the younger ones should suffer 'cause they don't know what's going on. We have to engage the children, and it's a real joy to see the smile on the children's faces.
"One child that struck me was one who said it was the first he was having Christmas and we brought Christmas to him," said Roye.
Otis James, founder of James and Friends, lauded members of the May Pen business community who came on board to support the venture.
"The community is tense, so myself and businessman Steve Liao sat down and came up with a plan. Garth Young, who owns Young's Pharmacy, and Michael McLaren, owner of Tait's Pharmacy, came together and got some toys. So we visited homes in Effortville and more than 500 children got toys," he said.
According to James, the business community has always supported the community by offering employment to youngsters.
He added: "Over the years, the community has been doing well. We want the Government to come in when things are normal and not just when people die. We also need the Government to make a plan for the youth ... some kind of training or something," he said.
James' 16-year-old daughter, Ashanti, who joined in on the venture, said she was excited to help bring cheer to the children, and noted her desire to be at the helm of the charity organisation.
"We went to eight different sections in the community and it was a joy helping others. One of my favourite parts was when a child said, 'This is my first Christmas gift.' Hearing a child rejoicing for his present touched my heart. My father won’t be able to manage James and Friends forever, so I will be working hard to follow in his footsteps," said Ashanti.
According to Roye, her team is working assiduously to restore calm and comfort to the community.