Chamber plan to boost Sister Islands’ economy

| 10/12/2008

(CNS): The Cayman Ministers Association (CMA) and the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to raise a target of at least $150,000 to give every household on the Sister Islands a Christmas donation of $100 to spend in the local stores. As well as offering a little seasonal spirit to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the fundamental reason for the ‘Christmas Joy’ initiative, the Chamber says, is to invest some money in to the local economy.

Making the announcement at the Chamber of Commerce offices on Tuesday morning to the press, Pastor Al Ebanks, chair of CMA, said there would be a celebration starting at 4:00 pm on 18 December for all Sister Islands residents, and instead of donating gifts he said the projectwould ensure each household received a Chamber of Commerce gift certificate that could be redeemed in any store on either of the Sister Islands, enabling families to purchase exactly what they need, be it food, building materials or Christmas gifts for their children.

Eddie Thompson recalled the stress, pressures and hardships faced on Grand Cayman after Hurricane Ivan, and said Christmas Joy would bring an evening of reprieve, celebration and joy to demonstrate continued solidarity with Sister Islands residents who are much less fortunate than those on Grand Cayman this Christmas Season.

It is our desire and intention to provide a gift for every household in the Sister Islands in order to assist in making this Christmas as joyful and special as possible in spite of the hardships experienced by the residents,” he said. Our goal is to raise a minimum of CI$150,000.  If just 5% of Cayman’s population responded with $100 each, this becomes easily achievable. We are therefore requesting businesses, NGO’s and individuals to respond and help us reach this goal.

Thompson and Ebanks said the system would be as well managed as possible and the certificates would be authenticated and stamped by the Chamber. Ebanks noted that while every family may not be in need, each household would still receive a certificate. But he hoped those that didn’t need the $100 would find it in their hearts to give theirs to a family in much greater need.

Thompson assured the community that no single interest group, church, politician or person would receive blocks of certificates and that they would be distributed to every family in a fair and equitable manner by a committee, which he said was headed by District Commissioner Ernie Scott.

He said the most important thing was that this would see a substantial sum of money making its way into the local Sister Islands economy, so not only would individual households benefit by being able to buy essential supplies, materials, Christmas food and gifts etc, they would be spending their certificates with local merchants who in turn would redeem the vouchers to the Chamber to get the money.

However, before the certificates can be given to anyone, and the funds need to be raised. Pastor Ebanks said that so far around $20,000 had come in from a number of donors and his own church collection this Sunday. Ebanks said individuals can make donations to either the Agape Family Worship Centre at 50 Fairbanks Road in GT, or the Chamber of Commerce office in central George Town. Corporate and business donations should be made to the Chamber.

Anyone interested in more details or in participating personally can also contact Pastor Al Ebanks at 949-2539, Wil Pineau or Eddie Thompson at 949- 8090 or Lizzette Yearwood at 916-7589.


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