As part of its efforts to strengthen outreach to Caribbean communities, Sandals Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International, has launched its “Lessons Alive” campaign to raise funds for purchasing supplies and resources to help vulnerable families facing back-to-school expenses.
The campaign will also aid Caribbean schools acquire much-needed resources as they reconfigure their operations to meet the newly-required safety and sanitation measures to commence the 2020/2021 academic year.
While annual back-to-school fairs and support have been a long-standing tradition of the Sandals Foundation, Executive Director, Heidi Clarke, says this year’s approach is shaped by the unique realities being experienced.
“This is a challenging time for many families across the Caribbean. Many breadwinners have lost their source of income, others are facing reduced salaries. The Caribbean people are resilient, but there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment. The ‘Lessons Alive’ campaign is hoped to relieve some of the expenses that usually accompany back-to-school preparations so children can get back into the classrooms and resume their studies with as much ease as possible.”
Funds raised, Clarke says, will “help purchase school bags, books, stationery, and other supplies to ease the burden of vulnerable families, especially those who depend on the tourism industry for their livelihood. We will also be helping schools with the resources they will need to implement the new safety measures that are required to accommodate their pupils.”
Since its inception in 2009, the Sandals Foundation has made significant contributions to the development of education in the region to promote literacy and academic pursuits.
“The Sandals Foundation sees education as the vehicle through which every individual, young and old, can have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential. Over the last 11 years, we have been able to provide essential learning tools and resources and invest in state-of-the-art infrastructure to support the academic pursuits of the people in the region.”
To date, Clarke says: “With the help of our partners and guests, we have been able to donate close to 300,000 books to students and 67,000 pounds of much-needed supplies. We have been able to impact some 200,000 students, over 800 schools, donated some 3,000 computers, trained over 3,000 teachers, and provided close to 200 scholarships to vulnerable yet promising students.”
The “Lessons Alive” campaign is the latest in a long list of activities that the Sandals Foundation has executed to respond to the social and economic needs evolving from the global pandemic.
To date, hundreds of care packages have been delivered to the elderly and vulnerable persons in underserved communities. Sandals Foundation purchased ventilators for hospitals, strengthened the capacity of clinics and local healthcare services in tourism dependent communities, provided meals for and support to medical frontline workers, assisted youths to take advantage of online learning programs by providing tablet computer devices, and covered the costs of Internet connection so students can continue their studies.
Protective masks have been distributed to communities in St. Lucia, financial assistance has been provided to families of high school scholarship recipients in Barbados and Jamaica, as well as to value chain supply operators whose sale to artisans in the tourism sector has abruptly paused due to the close of hotels. Additionally, the Sandals Foundation’s partnership with the Sweet Water Foundation in Grenada has seen a 24-hour sexual abuse helpline be expanded to provide counseling service for persons struggling to cope with COVID-19 related challenges.
“The security of the Caribbean family is at the heart of our work as a Foundation, and they need us now more than ever. We are so grateful for the help of our amazing team members who are our eyes and ears in the communities and the support of our very loyal partners, guests, travel agents, and well-wishers who have made it possible for us to respond to the evolving needs of families across the region,” Clarke added.
Donations to the “Lessons Alive” campaign are encouraged; visit the Sandals Foundation website at www.sandalsfoundation.org and donate to the education tab. 100% of every dollar will go directly to supporting education and back-to-school needs in the Caribbean.