The Gleaner: KINGSTON, Jamaica, By Aaliyah Cunningham – Overjoyed by the work Popcaan is doing for the parish of St Thomas, Morant Bay resident Paulette Stewart, who attended the off-to-school Fun Day with her granddaughter, was all smiles.
Despite a few unruly attendees, the Popcaan Off-To-School Fun Day held in Morant Bay, St Thomas, brought smiles, warmed hearts and relieved much of the back-to-school pressure faced by parents.
Paulette Stewart, a resident from Morant Bay, St Thomas said coming out of the pandemic and economic strain on parents, she was pleased to see Popcaan, whose given name Andre Sutherland, is giving back to the community.
“This is a wonderful event and we can see how Popcaan is doing a wonderful job for St Thomas. I feel very good about this because you have a lot of parents who could not afford back to school. This is my second year here and I am with my granddaughter and this is for me is even better that last year,” she said.
Organised under the Popcaan Care Foundation, Sharon Williams, the office manager for Unruly Entertainment, while speaking with GoodHeart shared that though they were behind time in terms of the planning of the event, she was pleased with this year’s staging of the annual treat.
“Every year it gets bigger and bigger. Andre never actually decided that we were going to go ahead until about three weeks ago, so the forward planning that I usually would be able to do which is reaching out to sponsors and [so on,] I never did at all this year. Andre literally gave me $3 million and Clarks out of the UK came onboard and gave me $2 million and that is what it cost to do it – a total of $5 million,” she explained.
An advocate and promoter for the parish of St Thomas, the event is geared towards assisting families in the community to prepare for the upcoming school year through charity. School bags and supplies, free haircuts, snack and several rides were the order of the day as scores of people from all over the parish turned up to partake.
“Last year we did 650 to 700 bags, this year we did 1,000 and we catered for 1,000 with the [snacks] and drinks. Last year Nestle came onboard and did medical checks, but unfortunately time didn’t allow us to do that this year,” Williams said.
Though Popcaan was unable to attend the event this year as a result of a missed flight, Williams said he was very proud and was always willing to give back to his hometown.
“He is usually here every year. But nothing is lacking except for his presence. He is not feeling so good about not being here today and I keep sending him videos of what’s going on. I feel great, but Pops feel greater, him really love him parish and he is happy to do it,” she shared.
Webster Sutherland, Popcaan’s grandfather, could not hide how proud he was of his grandson. “Mi appreciate it a way, we all inna the same community and who can help, help. It’s not like him grow a Hayfield and him a put on a ting fi Hayfield, him a put on it fi the parish,” the elder Sutherland said.
He said Popcaan was contributing to a worthy cause, that of education. “Education is everything. Me never get enough, and nobody doh get enough. So, you must hold what you can and try help people cause no matter where you go, you get help from people no matter how you rich,” he continued.