AISK makes million-dollar donation to Mustard Seed Communities
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, some of the organisations responsible for taking care of the nation’s most vulnerable were among the hardest hit. With no way of hosting physical fund-raisers, donations to organisations such as the Mustard Seed Communities were not as free-flowing as it once was. As a result, students from the American International School of Kingston (AISK) last year decided to host their first virtual outreach initiative. Through the institution’s Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) project, 16 grade 11 students and six grade 12 students set out to raise a quarter-million dollars to assist the Mustard Seed Communities and ended up quadrupling their efforts. After raising $1 million, AISK handed over a cheque for said amount to the home.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Rachael Boxill, CAS coordinator at AISK, said the institution prides itself on philanthropy and says each batch of students take great pride in their rich tradition of giving back. “At AISK, we are very big on empowerment, and a huge way to do that is through giving back. We encourage our students to identify authentic need in the community and to go out there and address those needs,” she said.
Boxill shared that AISK has had a “long-standing relationship with Mary’s Child” over the years. “Our students would actually go over to play games with the children there. Before the pandemic started, we had formed another relationship with one of the Mustard Seeds homes, which is Sophie’s Place in Gordon Town, and we were about to start visiting the children there when the pandemic . We were only able to do a food collection drive and just drop off the food after that, and we wanted to do more,” she said.
The project coordinator praised the work of the Mustard Seed Communities and spoke to the quick success of the students’ online initiative. “We recognise the significant work that Mustard Seed does for people who are just unable to help themselves, and we want to always find a way to be a part of that. They care for the most vulnerable in our society, and they are the people who most need our help. We weren’t able to visit, but we decided that wasn’t going to stop us from offering financial support and so we launched our online fund-raiser,” said Boxill.
CAS’ initial target of $250,000 was surpassed in just three weeks. She added, “Within three weeks of setting our initial target of 250,000, we met it and amazingly, the students decided they wanted to continue. We doubled it within a month and ended up quadrupling. In January, we ended up with $1 million in hand for the Mustard Seed Communities.”
Grade 11 AISK student, Fatima Deyde, shared similar sentiments as she talked about her drive for the virtual fund-raiser. “I felt so grateful to not only be able to work with my peers, but to assist an organisation like Mustard Seed because I feel like these organisations aren’t appreciated enough. This cause was really important in uplifting and appreciating our community members. Mustard Seed is our family, and we’ve had a very long-lasting relationship with them, and so I think it’s really been an amazing experience,” she said.
Deyde said having been a part of the St Mary’s Child volunteer group, she was happy to be able to provide assistance in another way. “I felt like this was something I have been connected to for a while. I was part of the volunteering group who would go to Mary’s Child and assist the young mothers, uplift them. With us not being able to physically go there and support these persons any more, this was an experience I was grateful for. I was happy to be able to help even from a distance,” she said.