With a little, do a lot Kareem’s Collection Drive, is the formalization of years of volunteer work, focused around the collection and distribution of necessary supplies to the rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. The charity, headed by Kareem Constantine, gained official charity status in 2020, under the Jamaican Cooperatives and Friendly Societies Act and operates out of Ontario, Canada where he resides. Contributions are collected by Kareem and the team in Ontario, packaged and shipped to Jamaica where they are later distributed in partnership with other community and needs-based non-profit organizations. This linkage allows vital supplies to reach those most in need.
This journey in community outreach started in 2007 while Kareem was a student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), in Kingston Jamaica. He observed the excess supply of unused goods, which were left to be discarded by the on campus student population. This presented an opportunity to positively impact the lives of people in communities of needs. Through the work of Kareem, his friends and his family, an awareness of the effort to collect supplies gained traction and the small group of volunteers collected, packaged, transported and distributed the contributions. These efforts continued annually for 8 years through to 2014. The four years that followed, 2015 – 2018, saw the collection drive placed on hiatus citing Kareem’s relocation to Canada. In 2019, the collection and outreach efforts resumed in earnest. That summer, Kareem, with the support of a number of contributors and his team of volunteers, shipped a total of 7 jumbo barrels to Jamaica, collected over a three month period. The following year this increased to 17 jumbo barrels, which garnered significant press and social media attention. From that drive the donations benefited recipients in the communities of May Pen, Mineral Heights, Sandy Bay, Hayes and Rocky Point, all in parish of Clarendon, Jamaica.
Born and raised in Clarendon, Jamaica, Kareem has a keen awareness of the needs that exist for the people across the parish. It is this understanding, and the personal values instilled in him by his mother – Dawn Constantine, that drove him to act where others had not. His time at the UWI, where the collection drive started, was instrumental in forming relationships that helped to drive the effort forward. Even upon migrating he has reunited with a number of those friends from the UWI, with the same drive to bring aid to those in need. That said, what was once a logical effort to collect and distribute within the island of Jamaica has now taken on additional complexity. In 2019 several persons who have come to know Kareem and the nature of his efforts, donated generously and in addition to his personal contribution of a large quality of good for the cause. 2020 saw two major developments, first the opening of a GoFundMe page for those who wanted to be a part of the effort but didn’t have the proximity to donate otherwise; and second, having the collection drive officially registered as a charity. All funds collected via GoFundMe were used to purchase more content for the barrels while the cost of shipping containers, shipping, clearance/brokerage and transportation were all personally covered by Kareem. In the previous year (2019) the clearance/brokerage fees with 7 barrels were significant and acquiring official charity status substantially reduced this burden, which allowed the push for a grand total of 17 barrels.
These contributions can seem small to the donor that gives, but they are greatly magnified in the eyes of the individuals who are always so grateful to benefit from that small action. Whatever is donated to us has been used to benefit those in need, be it through other charitable organizations such as Missionaries of the Poor and the Mustard Seed Communities or targeted donations to fire victims or persons suffering life threatening conditions; we want it all to count. We understand the joy of giving, caring and providing support to those in need and by participating, contributors do as well. So how do you get involved? Offering physical donations is as easy as contacting us to arrange a drop off or pick up in Toronto or a drop-off. With the onset of the pandemic, for the safety of our team and our donors, this has become our least preferred method. For persons who are in Canada but not close enough to donate physical items eTransfers are accepted and finally anyone, anywhere in the world can make their donations through the secure GoFundMe website. As the old Jamaican saying goes ‘one one cocoa full basket’, which directly aligns with out tag line; ‘with a little, do a lot.’