“If I don’t give somebody something for a day, I don’t feel as if my day is complete,” 22-year-old Makeda Cunningham told BUZZ.
The University College Of The Caribbean student encapsulated the season’s spirit of giving when she hosted her first ‘Christmas Giving Back Affair’ on Saturday. More than 70 people benefitted from the initiative, which unfolded at St Stephen’s United Church in Cross Roads, St Andrew.
“I’m going to make it an annual thing.”— Makeda Cunningham
“It was successful for the first staging and better than how I expected it to be,” she said. “We started off with prayer then we allowed them to do a meet and greet and invited them to church which was awesome. Afterwards, we gave out the food and packages, and throughout the event, they were on their best behaviour. They were really appreciative of it. I’m going to make it an annual thing.”
Makeda shared that the idea for the treat was initially a collaboration with ‘The Raising A Nation Foundation’, with homeless people Downtown as the target beneficiaries. After reaching out to the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSMAC), she was briefed on the proper procedures for feeding the homeless and subsequently reached out to a shelter.
“The church is used as a shelter, and each Saturday homeless and less fortunate people from that area come in and they feed them,” she said. “After speaking to the people in charge at the church, they gave us the opportunity to feed them on that day, and I started seeking several sponsors mostly for toiletries. I have a friend who has a catering company, and he contributed 100 meals.”
However, it was not all smooth-sailing. Cunningham would be left with the bulk of the planning and execution, as the partnering foundation was absent because its members had upcoming exams.
An act of kindness
Luckily, she was prepared.
“I had planned it in such a way where if they bailed on the day it wouldn’t be a big issue for me,” she said. “I got 20 volunteers from my church (Lighthouse Assembly) and people who normally assist me when I have events, and two people from the foundation turned up.”
The Barbican native also orchestrates a back-to-school treat in August, which has been running for three years.
When asked about her reasons for giving back, Cunningham credits it to her faith and upbringing.
“I’ve always been a giver. It’s something I saw my mom and father doing,” she started. “I always say in a world where you can be anything, be kind because an act of kindness may be very small to you, but it goes a far way for some people. It has become a hobby for me; if I’m walking on the road and I have some extra cash, I give it. It brings me great joy when I can do something for somebody and put a smile on their face without expecting anything in return.”