Friends of the Grand Bahama Children’s Home team are hard at work preparing for the annual fund-raising carnival set for November 28.
By Sharell Lockhart, Freeport News
Tis the season to be jolly and the Grand Bahama Children’s Home (GBCH) will be the epicenter of holiday fun on Saturday, November 28 during the Second Annual Christmas Carnival hosted by Friends of the Home (FTH).
Wendy Buck-Gehr, Friends of the Home (FTH) member noted, “We are excited to spearhead this year’s Christmas Carnival, which is expected to be a wonderful, fun-filled family event designed to galvanize community support for the Home while raising much-needed funds and donations to offset the facilities’ operational expenses.
“Tons of great activities that include face painting, bouncing castles, egg ‘n’ spoon and potato sack races, carnival games, arts and crafts, cookie decorating and great food would be available for all to enjoy.
“Children of the Home are anticipating this event and cannot wait to sing carols with other members of the FTH, trimming the Christmas tree and watching a preview of ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas.’
“The FTH is proud to give back to the GBCH and we want all families participating in this event to have a grand time, as the Christmas Carnival is the perfect way to bring in the holiday season for the children as well as raise awareness within the community about the Home and of their needs.”
GBCH Executive member Sheila Johnson-Smith expressed sincere gratitude to the FTH, who wanted to celebrate the holiday season in a way that children of the Home and the wider community could appreciate.
Hopeful that those supporting the Christmas Carnival would be sensitized to the plight of the children at the Home and make an earnest effort to provide assistance year round Johnson-Smith said, “We are always pleased with the outpouring of support the Home receives from volunteers, private and corporate donors like the FTH, who have been volunteering at the Home and expressed great love for the children here.
“As a result of the FTH our little darlings have the chance to experience the joys of the Christmas holiday season like any other child in loving homes throughout the local community.
“It is truly amazing to see what can happen when everyone comes together to help all our little darlings at the GBCH.
“Thankfully, a donation table will also be set up during the carnival allowing participants to donate a broad range of items such as socks, toiletries and grocery vouchers as well as certificates to help with repairs and maintenance around the Home.
“Every little bit helps as it is an enormous task caring for up to 40 children at a time, 24 hours a day seven days a week hence, the GBCH wishes to thank the FTH and the many individuals, who support us year round including Statoil, GB Shipyard, Polymers, Pelican Bay Resort, GB Power Company/Emera, Sire’s Restaurant, Paint Fair, Kelly’s, Sands Brewery, Rotary Club, M & E, Nesbitt’s Rental, Snack-umms, Elnet Maritime, Flying High Promotions and many more.”
On average it costs $400,000.00 to operate the Home each year and while the Bahamas Government Grant provides $150,000.00 annually, which helps to subsidize staff salaries, but $250,000.00 must be raised from private and corporate donations by the GBCH, which for the past 35 years provides 24-hour care and protection to neglected, abused and abandoned children, who need a safe home, food, clothing, love, guidance and to know they matter.
The number of children in care at the GBCH fluctuates with the holiday season and economic slumps typically show an increase in the number of children admitted. Additionally, volunteers also spend many hours at the Home providing a variety of services like hair cutting, reading and playing with the children revealed Johnson-Smith, who encouraged individuals and families to come to the Home located on Tripp Circle and participate in the Christmas Carnival.
“There is a cover charge per person and families of four to patronize the carnival and anyone looking to donate items or volunteer their time or expertise to the children at the Home, who range in age from birth to 12 years old can call 352-7852.
“Again we look forward to this being a well supported, successful event and thank the FTH and Ms. Buck-Gehr for all they have done and continue to do in aid of the GBCH,” declared Johnson-Smith.