A back-to-school giveaway attracted hundreds of children and their families yesterday.
The Caines Brothers organised the Back to School Extravaganza for families in need and handed out school supplies.
They also offered free haircuts for schoolchildren with help from Hamilton-based Five Star Barbershop.
Dwayne Caines said that 310 boys and 245 girls had been helped to get a good start to the new academic year.
He added that 600 school bags, 100 lunchboxes and other school supplies had been handed out.
Mr Caines said: “This event would not be possible without the kindness of the 87 volunteers who gave of their time and energy to assist.”
Coral Dental, based in Hamilton’s Queen Street, offered free dental screenings and advice and children enjoyed music, chess and video games.
Katherine Medeiros, a receptionist at Coral Dental, volunteered at the event.
She said: “We are talking about the amount of sugar in our drinks and trying to encourage children to make the decision to drink more healthy drinks, rather than sodas and energy drinks.
“We are also giving out toothpaste and brushes just to encourage the children to keep up with their oral hygiene.”
Pastor Leroy Bean brought a team of young, at-risk men from the Redemption Farm project to help at the event, held at the New Testament Church of God on Dundonald Street, Hamilton.
Mr Bean said: “It shapes a sense of character and discipline to let them know that it is all about pouring back into the community.
“I hope that this event will continue to go to higher heights.
“Sometimes in our society it is very difficult for people to afford general items that kids need for school. This is an excellent vision to support the community.”
The event, the seventh of its kind, was held under the slogan “Be Brave, Be Bold, Be You”,
The organisers said it was planned to expand the Back to School Extravaganza next year to include an after-school programme, a boys’ club and a homework club.
Mr Bean said: “I think that would be a great initiative, because some kids might not express if they are struggling with their work when they are at school, but in an after-school programme, with a support group system, people may be more prone to open up and get the attention that they need.”
One mother of Primary 4 schoolgirl said: “So many people are having a hard time managing preparing for school and getting everything they need for their children.
“It has been a difficult time for a few years for me and I come every year. This event helps out a tremendous amount
The woman, who asked not to be named, added: “Any after-school clubs would absolutely be helpful not just for myself, but for many other parents — the community would embrace that.”
Travis Caines, who also played a major part in the drive to collect aid supplies for the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas last weekend, said: “It has been the busiest weekend I have ever experienced in my life, but it has been all worth it.
“We have been inspired by our mother Shurnette. It is part of who we are and it is part of our spiritual upbringing of service to others.
“We are hoping to get a feel today of how many are interested in the clubs we are looking to set up and if there are enough people, we will go ahead full speed.”
Stephany Outerbridge, from the Coalition for the Protection of Children, who also volunteered at the event, added: “We have the same population in terms of the coalition, so we like to help as much as possible.
“A lot of parents are unemployed or under employed and the children need the resources. The children are very grateful.”