Good Samaritans to the rescue

Published: Monday | February 2, 2009

Keisha Shakespeare-Blackmore, Staff Reporter

( L - R ) Kareem Constantine, Jean-Pierre Murray

Kareem Constantine is a 25-year-old student at the University of the West Indies, but he is not your ordinary college student. He is one who takes pleasure in assisting those less fortunate by collecting food items from his fellow students.

Last Thursday, Constantine visited The Gleaner's Kingston office with two huge packages of goodies for Gabrielle, the 19-year-old girl who is living with HIV/AIDS and just had her second child. Flair documented her story over several months. Constantine said that he collected packaged food from his batchmates on Rex Nettleford Hall to make the packages.

Idea source

Constantine said after his first year at the university back in 2007 he realised that at the end of each semester students would throw away a lot of good things which others could use.

"I approached Donna Maye Jackson, student service/development manager of hall, with my idea of doing a food drive at the end of the semester and she agreed, so began the drive," said Constantine.

Though he does the drive at the end of each semester, the break before summer is usually more fruitful. He was not sure he was going to do the drive last Christmas break, but Jackson brought his attention to the Flair series and asked him to do it.

Advertising the drive

"I advertised the drive and got my friends, including Jean-Pierre Murray, a fellow dorm mate, to assist me with collecting things."

After the first drive, Constantine had no idea who the recipient would be. "But I received a letter from the guild office about a family whose home was burnt out. Since then, word spread and by April each year, he would start receiving letters about someone in need.

Now in his final year, he is sure he will continue but if he can't, someone else will take up the mantle.

His batchmate Murray said he would embrace it openly because he has a passion to assist in any way he can. But, until Constantine graduates, he plans on doing his bit for the less fortunate. He is grateful to the students on the Rex Nettleford Hall who give regularly, some even before they are asked.