Telethon Jamaica raises $60 million for frontline COVID workers

Minister of Culture and Entertainment Olivia Grange (centre) accepts a symbolic cheque for JMD$2 million from Restaurants of Jamaica Group (operators of KFC and Pizza Hut in Jamaica) execs on Friday, 22 at her offices in New Kingston. (Photo: Facebook @Hon.BabsyGrange)

With a $2 million injection by Restaurants of Jamaica Group on Friday (May 22), Telethon Jamaica, the fundraising effort coordinated by the government has reached an impressive $60 million milestone.

Minister of Culture and Entertainment Olivia Grange explained that the funds will be used by the Jamaican Government to purchase additional personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontline workers

“We are now up to 60 million dollars in collection and pledges.  We have collected most of what has been pledged and today, KFC [has] delivered their cheque to us,” Grange said.

“I am really happy to see how Corporate Jamaica and the Jamaica Diaspora have contributed tremendously to this effort,” said Minister Grange who highlighted the generosity of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organisations in the United States which originally pledged US$10,000 but wired US$11,000 into the account,” the minister added.

For his part, Brand Manager for Restaurants of Jamaica (operators of KFC and Pizza Hut in Jamaica), Andrei Roper remarked, “It was necessary for us to step up and make a contribution like this to show how much we value the contribution being made by those persons who are putting themselves at risk for all of us on a day-to-day basis.”

Minister Grange, heartened by the support that Telethon Jamaica continues to receive, further noted that the fundraising effort has also benefitted from sizeable contributions by the Bob Marley Foundation, Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League, Ziggy Marley, Rohan Marley, Alacran, Keith Duncan, the St Thomas Renaissance Foundation, Joe Bogdanovich, Usain Bolt, Blackpoint Electronics, DAN Industries and Robert Livingston.

The minister said the process of transferring the money collected to the National Health Fund (NHF), which is the government agency procuring PPEs for frontline workers, has started.

Frontline workers to get some needed injection of personal protective equipment (PPEs), as pictured above, to aid in Jamaica’s national coronavirus response.

Everton Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of the NHF, said the telethon has really helped to equip frontline workers with the gear they need.

 “To date, we’ve received in the region of US$80,000 yesterday, another US$47,000 prior and about J$12 million.  This is a major initiative and a successful initiative and we must commend all the persons involved in coming up with this idea. It has really brought overseas Jamaicans, individuals and businesses, together, doing something positive for Jamaica and the health team, every single health worker, appreciates this,” Anderson contended.

Minister Grange also thanked members of the entertainment community, at home and abroad, for contributing their time and effort towards equipping frontline workers with PPEs.

“A number of Jamaica artistes came on board and continue to give support,” she continued.

Still, highlights of the Telethon Jamaica show will be broadcast on national television and on social media across the world on Labour Day (Monday, May 25).

What’s new, however, is the show will feature some of the artistes who were not in the original broadcast.

The minister said that people will be able to make a contribution to the effort to provide PPEs for frontline workers while enjoying the music.

“It’s not only about the money,” said Minister Grange. “It’s also about sharing with others the inspiration that will come from the performances that we will see as we stand together in this time.”

The two-hour Telethon Jamaica Highlights Show will be broadcast and streamed online from 5:00 pm on Monday.