TORONTO — The ‘One Love’ vibe was in the air as travel professionals and friends laced up and descended on Toronto’s waterfront at the Palais Royale courtyard patio, ready to hit the boardwalk for the 14th annual Jam-Walk 5km walkathon and brunch.
With another record-breaking year under its belt, the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) event was at capacity with sold-out numbers of 130 participants, 33 of which included members of the travel agent community, eagerly showing their support in record numbers.
Also in attendance were team members from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), including Angella Bennett, Regional Director, Jamaica Tourist Board Canada. The JTB has been an event sponsor with a strong presence for several years, supporting educational initiatives for young people in Jamaica.
“We’re very proud to be associated with HHJF because it speaks volumes to their work in Jamaica,” said Bennett. “That is to create an environment where children can learn in a happy space and have the proper classroom with proper Internet and computers. I see how it connects to tourism; this is our future tourism worker.”
The travel agent community made a concerted effort and raised over $9,000.
Moreover, the travel industry’s attendance numbers rose from 10 in 2022 to 33 this year, with numbers expected to more than double in 2024.
“I am overjoyed with the response from the tribal community. Likewise, the travel agent community has shown me that not only are they interested in selling Jamaica, they are also interested in the welfare of the people. And so I’m genuinely thankful for their support, and Jamaica is also thankful,” said Bennett.
The Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation has developed and constructed more than 25 Jamaican schools, and is making admirable progress by completing its soon-to-be 26th.
Last year, they completed the Bourne Gordon’s Preschool and Kindergarten in Linstead, Jamaica.
HHJF has set a goal to raise a significant amount of funds to build schools with classrooms fitted with age-appropriate student furniture and essential items that enhance the school, such as kitchens with appliances, staff and student bathrooms, sickbays, fencing, playgrounds, and water harvesting systems.
The foundation’s motto, Participate, Educate, Elevate, believes providing the opportunity for education can eliminate the barriers to a child’s success.
“Our foundation aims for a future where every child can access education regardless of socio-economic status or location. We invite anyone who believes every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed to join us for Jam-walk!” said Karl Hale, HHJF Founder and Chairman.
In addition to fundraising, HHJF annually holds volunteer school builds in Jamaica, allowing organizations and individuals to participate in working holidays.
Team members come together to help build schools while being given time to participate in tours and activities, and construction experience is not required.
Travel advisors who are interested in supporting HHJF can obtain information on donations, the annual Jamrock gala or how to participate in a working holiday can visit www.helpinghandsjamaica.com.