Recently my boys and I went on an amazing trip to the Beaches Negril resort in Jamaica. With Beaches Resorts’ passion for providing the ultimate all-inclusive experience to visitors, we enjoyed plenty of relaxing and fun-filled moments on the resort. But we also had a chance to see the difference that the company makes to the community through its philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation, and it was an experience that left me and my boys more touched than I could have expected.
We travelled to the local Mount Airy School in the Mocho Mountains for the annual Sandals Foundation Christmas Party and to make the experience even more memorable, we had been given the opportunity to bring a wrapped gift to give to one of the schoolchildren at the party. I loved the idea of showing my boys how rewarding generosity could be, so I intentionally chose gifts that I knew each of them would love to have for themselves: Benjamin’s gift was a soft and cuddly teddy bear and Zackary’s was a LEGO set. I even brought a large Hello Kitty doll to give away myself and we were bursting with excitement when we arrived.
Tables full of Christmas presents were set out as eager children peered out of their classrooms waiting for the festivities to start. When we first arrived, I had no idea just how many students attended the school; the two small single-room buildings by the gift display each held perhaps thirty students and initially I thought that was all there were. But across the road were many more classrooms and when the children started assembling outside, they numbered in the hundreds.
After a brief speech from the principal, a small group of the children performed a traditional song and dance that both my boys absolutely loved. And then it was time to treat all the students to cake and juice! Zackary was quick to jump up and start handing out juice to the many children and watching him carefully carrying a cup of juice in each hand to give to the thirsty schoolchildren had me bursting with pride. Once everyone had been fed, it was time to hand out the presents!
Watching the faces of the children light up as they were given a gift was absolutely heart-warming, and Santa Claus even made an appearance and handed out gifts too! The large open courtyard was full of happy children and almost everyone got a little teary-eyed seeing that joy.
Benjamin wilted in the heat a bit and at four years old, he didn’t quite understand the purpose of the event. But Zackary, at seven years old, was the perfect age for this experience and was soon in his element. He was so excited to hand out presents to the schoolchildren and the smile on his face as a row of boys gave him a high-five was heart-melting. Being able to not just see for myself the work that the Sandals Foundation does, but to be a part of it with my boys too was easily one of the best moments of our trip.
The Sandals Foundation does much more than just sponsor Christmas parties though! The organization supports education, environmental responsibility and community development in the Caribbean through a variety of individual projects. From book drives and community scholarships that support educational growth to skills training and mentorship programs that help drive economic change to trash removal and wildlife monitoring that protect the delicate ecosystem of the ocean, the Sandals Foundation is passionate about supporting Caribbean communities in a variety of life-enriching ways.
The chance to attend the Sandals Foundation Christmas Party was a humbling experience and one that I will never forget. Knowing that Beaches Resorts gives back to the community in this way just gives me one more reason to choose a Beaches vacation in the future. The organization ensures that the Caribbean communities near the resorts are able to grow, flourish and achieve great things, and that’s something that I support whole-heartedly.