Sat | Jan 28, 2023

GoodHeart | Radio station, PR company, to host holiday treat at Maxfield Park home

Published:Saturday | December 3, 2022 | 12:08 AMAaliyah Cunningham/Gleaner Writer
Syntyche Clarke started the Make a Child Smile Christmas treat in New York at Irie Jam Radio..
Syntyche Clarke started the Make a Child Smile Christmas treat in New York at Irie Jam Radio..

Christmas is the season of giving, and as the year draws to an end, several groups of people with good hearts and helping hands are ready to give back to their communities in whatever way possible. For the team members at Bridge 99 FM, in collaboration with Irie Jam, New York and public relations agency, PRETC Limited, their mission is to help ‘Make a Child Smile This Christmas’ by hosting a holiday treat at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home on December 15.

Speaking with GoodHeart, Syntyche Clarke, director at Irie Jam New York and the Bridge 99 FM, said the treat is all about educating, entertaining and uplifting the future leaders of tomorrow.

“Projects like this are important to us because the children are the future. They are the next politicians, doctors, nurses, [and] entrepreneurs and pouring into them is of the utmost importance. As Whitney Houston said, ‘the children are our future’, and I do believe that sometimes they are forgotten. Sometimes, as parents, we get caught up in trying to ensure that the bills are being paid and that they are okay, so you forget that there is a lot of coddling and nurturing. You have a lot of children who don’t have the nuclear family. Even in a space like Maxfield Children’s Home, where these children were placed in a space for whatever unfortunate reason, that does not mean that their beginning is certainly their end. That is the message that we want to drive home with this initiative and the others we will be doing involving children,” Clarke shared.

With operations beginning in 1918, the Maxfield Park Children’s Home is Jamaica’s oldest children’s home. It is one of the private childcare centres under the control of the Ministry of Education and Youth, through the Child Protection & Family Services Agency (CPFSA). The children, whose ages range from newborns to 18 years old, are admitted after being found to require care and protection in accordance with the Child Care & Protection Act (2004). The house also runs an early childhood preschool and a school for kids with special needs that fills in where the public school system falls short on resources.

Clarke, who was born in America to Caribbean parents, conceptualised the Make A Child Smile Christmas Treat over five years ago to showcase the rich Caribbean culture to children in the diaspora while aiding in furthering their development. Then it operated under the Irie Butterfly Foundation.

“I started the Make a Child Smile Christmas treat at our original station in New York, Irie Jam Radio, out of a need for wanting to connect further with our community, Jamaicans within the community and knowing that there is a lot of youth in the community. We started about five [or] six years ago. I went on air, and I asked our listeners for a donation to hold the Christmas treat for our children in our community, and it was overwhelming the gifts that we received. So that was where we really started out, wanting to connect further with the youth of our community. The Irie Butterfly Foundation was started six or seven years ago. I started that foundation under the theme of educating, entertaining and empowering our youth through Caribbean culture ‘cause much like myself, my parent were born [in the] Caribbean. They raised me in their culture, and I wanted to ensure that children like myself, who were born in America, understand what a rich culture we had. Moving to Jamaica and launching The Bridge, we wanted to ensure that we were doing the same thing here,” she explained.

The team is also requesting donations from the public to ensure that the treat is a massive success.

“Donations can be received by calling our number, and we can further direct persons as to where they can drop off gifts. We are asking for just about any and everything, a toy, a book (unwrapped), money [and] cheques. We will take it all,” she expressed.

Clarke also urges people in business to note that charity is just as important as daily operations.

“We do believe that the youth and children are the future, and it is important that we pour into the community as much as [we care about] making sure that we are able to pay the bills. It is much more about making sure the community is thriving wherever you are in the world. We want to ensure that we are uplifting, empowering and showcasing culture on a global scale.”

To donate or learn more about the Make a Child Smile initiative, call 876-669-5000. Have a good story you’d like to share? Email us at goodheart@gleanerjm.com.