Army of Good hosts mobile treat for children

October 28, 2020
Petegay Gentles (second left) with members of the Army of Good making donations at the Mona Commons Basic School.
Petegay Gentles (second left) with members of the Army of Good making donations at the Mona Commons Basic School.

Since 2013, a group of students at The University of the West Indies, Mona, have hosted a back-to-school treat catering to children in the neighbouring communities of August Town and Mona Commons.

The group, dubbed the Army of Good, usually provides books, stationery supplies, haircuts, health checks and rides before the start of the school year in September. However, with the spike in the positive cases of the coronavirus, there was uncertainty with the event being held this year.

Petegay Gentles, chairperson for the group, said it took great planning to host the event.

"The initial plan was to have a physical back-to-school treat, where we would provide stationery, rides, barbering services and music. Also, we had intention to even have a parenting seminar, but with COVID, we have to do it another way as we wouldn't get to execute," she said.

Gentles said she and her team decided to have a back-to-school treat on wheels, where they would bring the resources to students.

"We took our precautionary measures, wore masks and social-distanced. We didn't ask them to get their students on campus, we just carried the donations," Gentles said.

The 20-year-old added that the decision to host the event rather than cancel was intended to fulfil the main purpose of providing resources for those in need.

The treat was held on October 14, providing supplies for 300 students at the Mona Commons Basic, Mona Heights Primary and August Town Primary schools.

"We knew persons needed the resources, even though school would be online. We wanted to serve our purpose," she told THE STAR.

Gentles said she is pleased that she fulfilled the needs of students through volunteering. Although the group secured sponsorship from Sangster's Bookstore and the Jamaica Automobile Association, Gentles said she is hopeful more sponsors will help with other initiatives.

"For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we're raising funds for the Jamaica Cancer Society. We are selling shirts, which cost $1,500, and proceeds to go to the Jamaica Cancer Society, and we're also doing a mural. We would love if more persons come on board, to help us as students to help others in the wider society," the psychology and marketing student said.

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