During this holiday season we give thanks for what we have and the gifts that we receive. But it is also a time to share with those who are less fortunate. In San Pedro Town giving back is ingrained in the fabric of the community. This is particularly true during the holidays. Â Here are but a few recent examples of generosity on the island...
The Smile Clinic. Each year weÂre blessed by the generosity of dentists who visit to provide free services to needy San Pedranos. The Smile Clinic is staffed by volunteers from the USA. They come to provide services primarily to students, but also to the islandÂs residents. Many of them work with the students at Holy Cross Anglican School. This year they also treated students at the San Pedro Roman Catholic School. And others spent time at the PolyClinic. (Â Read the Ambergris Today on-line article here...)
Some of the dentists are retired, such as Dr. Lam and Dr. Snyder, who visited during the last month. The islandÂs own Dr. Mark Johnson also regularly provides services to Holy Cross students. He moved here from the USA and now has a part-time dental practice on the north island.
Most of the visiting dentists and hygienists visit during their vacation. They offer free teeth cleaning, fill cavities, perform root canals, extract teeth, and give fluoride treatments. A major goal is also to educate the students on basic oral hygiene.
The dental supplies are donated. The dentists and hygienists themselves pay for their flights and accommodations, and donate their timeÂ Their services are provided at no cost.
The Gift of Education. Kelly and Mukul Kanabar are successful young entrepreneurs in San Pedro. They own three reputable San Pedro restaurants. They also own and operate Wine de Vine and The Phoenix. They own the award winning restaurant, Blue Water Grill. ItÂs one of our favorites. Between their various businesses, they employ 93 people. But they also regularly give back to their community.
This week Mukul announced that they would give their employees' children assistance with their high school tuition expenses. During the next ten years they will hand out 79 scholarships. Â This first year, 13 students will receive a scholarship to one of the local high schools. Each employee will receive one scholarship for their family.
Here in Belize, primary education is free. But high school requires a tuition payment. Many families cannot afford this tuition. They rely upon donated local scholarships to provide students with much needed assistance to finish high school in San Pedro.Â This video explains the program...
Christmas Gifts for Needy Kids. Multiple groups on the island organized toy drives for the islandÂs disadvantaged kids. Each group focuses on a different island neighborhood. Scotiabank and the Development Finance Corporation both organized a toy drive for the San Mateo district, the poorest area.
Holy Cross Anglican School is in the San Mateo region. One of their volunteers, Krista Gromonti, also organized a toy drive, as well as a visit from SantaÂ
Living Word Church took to the streets of the San Juan Area, the Town Center, and San Pedrito. Â They drove around in their colorfully decorated golf carts, caroling along the way. As they drove around town they handed out gifts to appreciative children.
They also stopped at the San Pedro Fire Station and Police Department. There they delivered cakes and sodas to the employees. Read the San Pedro Sun article here... Â Â
Christmas Party for Seniors. The San Pedro Lions Club regularly assists people in need on this island. They believe that the islandÂs seniors deserve special love and appreciation over the holidays.
Each year the Lions Club holds a special Christmas part for the senior citizens of San Pedro.Â They provide a special turkey dinner and dance with live local music. Then Belize Bank passes out gifts to all seniors who attend.Â Check out the pictures in the San Pedro Sun...
The generosity of this islandÂs residents continues to impress me. At this time of year, in particular, it warms the heart to see that people here are used to sharing their time and resources with their less advantaged neighborsÂ