PHILIPSBURG:--- Leading up to the Christmas Holidays, the Rotary Club of St. Maarten placed two “Giving Trees” by Ace Home Center and Kooyman to help the remaining shelter residents with the relocation to their new accommodations. The trees had decorations and a picture of a needed item and in the spirit of giving and helping others, a customer could choose one and pay for it when checking out. The 200+ decorations were made and colored mostly by the children of the shelter along with the help of the Learning Unlimited EarlyAct Club. The items were chosen from a wish list that ranged from sheets, towels, dishes, pots and pans, appliances, bathroom vanities, irons, silverware, lamps, etc. The items were then collected by Rotarians and brought to the shelter in Sucker Garden where they were distributed to the residents as they moved out. “It was so heartwarming to be a part of this project where together we were able to help so many get back the household items they really need to start a new life,” said Sherrylle DeHardt, the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten’s President. “They literally lost everything after Irma and Maria and with the help of Ace, Kooyman, and those in the community wanting to make a difference, we were able to get them the most everything they needed. We really thank them for their belief and support in this project,” she continued to say.
Almost $3,500 worth of essential new items were purchased in total from the Giving Trees. Ace Home Center so very generously matched the amount that was raised from their tree so some more of the non purchased but still needed items could be given. As a lot of people during the holidays upgrade their appliances or televisions, Rotarians also via the media put out a call for refrigerators, stoves, TV’s, beds, furniture, and washing machines still in good and working condition to not be thrown into the dump but to have a Rotarian collect them and be also able to get these appliances and furnishings to those that need them. This was also much better for the environment.
In addition to the above, Super Plaza and Shams also offered cost price for some new appliances that were then purchased by Rotary and given to the shelter residents. “The cost of living on Sint Maarten is so very high and many of the residents are having such a hard time finding affordable or suitable accommodations. Add in the security deposit, high rent, starting from scratch, etc. and it would have been so very difficult to even start to think of buying household items and furnishings; especially considering that they had lost everything. We are so glad that we could be there to help them. It truly gave a whole new meaning to ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’,” said Rotarian John Caputo.