Hundreds of people on the tiny island nation of Dominica are getting much needed items of clothes, shoes, food and medical supplies thanks to the efforts of a woman in the Diocese of Toronto.
Jessica Carrington, a member of Grace Church, Markham, filled more than 180 boxes of donated goods and raised $3,800 for the Caribbean island after it was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last Sept. 19. The category 5 storm killed 40 people and left most of the country in ruins.
“Jessica’s efforts made a significant contribution in the lives of Dominicans who otherwise had no options,” says Frances Delsol, the island’s trade and investment commissioner in Toronto.
Ms. Carrington was praying in her house early one morning last summer when she felt the urge to respond to those who had lost their homes and belongings by the hurricanes that were sweeping across the Caribbean. “A little voice said to me, ‘We can help,’” she recalls.
She was particularly moved by the devastation on Dominica, which has a population of about 70,000 and is located in the Windward Islands. A native of Barbados, she felt a close kinship to the people and their suffering. “I thought, this has happened to my neighbours, and if it happened to them it could happen to us,” she says.
She spoke to her priest, the Rev. Canon Nicola Skinner, the incumbent of Grace Church, who enthusiastically encouraged her to help out. The following Sunday, the pair spoke to the congregation from the pulpit, asking parishioners to drop off donated items at Ms. Carrington’s garage.
Throughout the late summer and fall, parishioners, neighbours and friends dropped off hundreds of items and Ms. Carrington packed them into boxes – so many that they often reached the ceiling. The boxes were put into shipping containers and sent down to Dominica by Ms. Delsol’s office.
“Through Jessica’s efforts, a lot of people were able to get new clothing, shoes and a lot of food,” says Ms. Delsol. Supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap were put into personal care kits for children and seniors.
In addition to the donated goods, Grace Church raised $3,800 through a Karaoke night in October and a donation from the church’s ACW. The money was given to Dominica’s Hurricane Maria Fund to assist those who lost their homes or belongings or were injured.
Ms. Carrington says she was overwhelmed with joy by the experience. “No words could describe it. I actually had the chills while I was doing it. It wasn’t about us. It was about what we could do to help others. That’s what we’re here for – to help others. And it felt really good.”
Ms. Delsol says Ms. Carrington’s efforts have not gone unnoticed on Dominica. “I’ve heard from people who have told me, thank you so much for remembering that we are here and are not forgotten. People are posting on social media that we are getting your relief supplies and we are truly appreciative.”