By: Jeneva Russell
The Freeport News
The grounds of the Grand Bahama Children’s Home came alive this weekend as scores of residents and supporters turned out to take part in the annual carnival.
The event which is a major fund-raiser, was organized by the Friends of the Home group. The primary objective of Friends of the Home is to assist in defraying costs for the facility which is home to over 20 children.
During the carnival, children of the Home and residents enjoyed lots of food and drink, face painting, festive games – such as egg and spoon race, sack race, cookie decorating, a bouncing castle and a Santa photo booth.
Wendy Gehr of Friends of the Home expressed pleasure over the public’s response.
“This year about 350 to 400 people came through the doors along with 50 volunteers, who were giving up their time to make this event happen and be successful.
“We also had a fantastic response from private individuals and corporations who provided monetary contributions and items to help the Home with its operational needs.
“This is our Second Annual event which is bigger and better than last year,” said Gehr.
A special fund-raiser dimension was a donation table. Sign-up sheets were available for individuals to commit providing items to the Home.
According to Gehr, the donation table worked well.
“But our goal today is the children,” she said.
“They are incredible and have waited weeks for their carnival to happen and we wanted to create a day for them to feel really special cared for and loved as well as one they will remember for a long time.”
Also pleased with the community support was Grand Bahama Children’s Home Executive Director, Sheila Johnson-Smith, who praised the efforts of Gehr, Indy Castillo, Dunya Alnebek and Gail Williams.
“We are so grateful and happy for these women from the Friends of the Home and their volunteers, that they decided to put on such a fun-draiser for our children.
“It is important that the communities continue to support the home year round. It can only stay open and a be a place of safety and protection for our less fortunate ones if people continue to give on a regular basis.
“We have a lot of children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected and need a place of safety. The Grand Bahama Children’s Home provides that for Grand Bahamians, as well as children from Abaco Bimini and Eleuthera,” informed Johnson-Smith.
Taking part in the festivities were first time attendees Russell and Lynda Miller, who expressed how pleased they were with the event.
“We are happy to be here and plan on continuing to support and help out. This is our first time and we are pleasantly surprised. We want to participate, be involved and a part of it because we think that it is a wonderful and worthwhile organization. This is a great event,” said Russell.
Also in attendance was Justin Snisky, with some family members.
“We are enjoying these festivities here at the Children’s Home. Everyone is having a good time and the kids are going crazy with great games, and prizes. So, we definitely wanted to support this great cause.
“The little support that we can give by even coming out to events like this is helping out a huge amount he added. So, I want to encourage everybody to come out and support whenever they are having events like this,” said Snisky.
Highlights of the affair were the singing of carols by the children gathered around the Christmas tree and the Junkanoo rush-out that ended the evening.