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Jul 24, 2018

CitCo Launches Summer Pantry Program

The Belize City Council, under its ‘social infrastructure’ platform, launched a summer pantry programme today at the Swift Hall in Belize City to assist the neediest families with basic supplies of food, clothing and school items. CitCo partnered with a group out of Florida that’s been coming to Belize for the past few years to help the homeless and other vulnerable groups.  Another group from L.A. also donated several barrels of basic necessities.  And with some help from the Ministry of Finance on duty exemptions, a total of forty barrels were received.  The initiative is the brainchild of Mayor Bernard Wagner, who wants to make this an annual event to help the ten constituencies.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at today’s launch and tells us more about the help the families received today.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

About one hundred underprivileged families received food and clothing packages today through the Belize City Council’s newly launched summer pantry programme. Deputy Mayor Oscar Arnold says that CitCo has been receiving a number of requests for assistance -  and so they partnered up with a Ministry from Florida to help some of these deserving families in three constituencies, including  Lake Independence where the programme kicked off today.


Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor, Belize City Council

Oscar Arnold

“We were getting a lot of requests for help for food items and school items, at the Council. So, along with S&B Ministries out of West Palm Beach, Florida, we came up with this idea that we would get stuff donated and then disseminate to the kids in the area. We are starting in Lake I, we will then be in Port and Collet over the next three to four days. A big part of the people were selected from those individuals coming to the council  that have stated a need that they have. We also have individuals working in the different areas and so they know some of the individuals and kids there. We have also had some deaths from City Council workers in the past and some of them have been left without a breadwinner and so those are some of the individuals who will be benefitting. We didn’t go along party lines, this is reaching across party lines because as you know the homeless and needy people reach are across party lines and that doesn’t recognize a color.”


Sisters & Brothers in Christ Ministries through The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Florida worked to gather the donations to bring to Belize. According to Donna Peart, the initiative was spearheaded by a Belizean who lives in Florida – and the church and community came together to help the needy families.


Donna Peart

Donna Peart, Member, Sisters & Brothers in Christ Ministries

“The store rooms were open and they gave and gave and gave – even to the point where we were leaving, we were still getting stuff. And so it is a lot of donations from our brothers and sisters and our own investments of doing God’s work.”


Andrea Polanco

“Talk to us about the donations – what items are we looking at?”


Donna Peart

“So the items that are in the packages are backpacks and in those we have back to school supplies, books, crayons, and all the back to school stuff. In the backpacks we also have care kits – socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo. In those backpacks we also have food. We have non-perishable foods like canned items, peanut butter, rice, beans. In the barrels we have clothes. A lot of the clothes are good quality clothes that are very gently used. Some of it are brand new clothes that we have gotten from people, as well as shoes, are what we have in there.”

And these items may not seem like much to some, but these packages will make a big difference in the lives of struggling families.


Oscar Arnold

“It goes a long way because we have had parents, family members come into the City Council requesting donations for twenty-five, thirty or forty dollars just to buy some school supplies or maybe to even pay past school fees to get a report card. I know what it was like to go to school needing some school items. A school bag for example can go a long, long way so that you try to keep everything together. It builds your self-esteem, builds yourself worth and it also makes you understand that people out there care. This is what the team of this City Council wants to bring across and it is also S&B Ministries’ show that they care about individuals. And S&B stands for sisters and brothers,  and so once we look out for each other; once we look out for our sisters and brothers then we will have a better city and we can increase the self-esteem and the self-confidence of kids and families across the City.”

A total of about forty barrels were brought in to assist some three hundred families across three constituencies. A group out of Los Angeles also donated to the cause.

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

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