I stumbled across Collecteco online, trying to get help for the new charity I had set up. I set up The HummingBirds charity to help to develop communities in the Caribbean through sport. The fantasy was that I would set up a charity and a load of people would see what I was aiming to achieve and support us in all the many ways they could. Unfortunately, the brutal reality, is that even people I know, friends, barely supported in a way as easy as to follow on social media.
Looking online for help my charity could get, I found Collecteco. I confess, my first impressions were a little weary. Having found a company that simply gives furniture away to good causes, something didn’t seem right, almost as if it was too good to be true; there must be some sort of catch. The HummingBirds charity was set up to develop communities in the Caribbean, third world, developing countries. Sport was identified as the primary method the charity will use to develop these communities. But with the aim being to develop communities, we close no door, reject any opportunities, or decline any help. So, I went through the motions, filled in Collecteco’s forms and continued on my way.
Not long after sharing the information of The HummingBirds charity, I received an email from Collecteco, in which they were offering me furniture. All I needed to do was tell them what I wanted, and I could either have it delivered or collect it myself. Again, this didn’t seem right – too good to be true! When I saw what Collecteco was offering, I saw help; I saw an opportunity that would help us to improve the resources being used by schools in the Caribbean. At this point, I had to call them to make sure all was real, not a scam, and I really only needed to tell them what I wanted. “Yes, please. Can The HummingBirds have some of that furniture?”. The answer was “yes, what would you like?”. I gave quite a long list, hoping, not knowing what to expect, but something is better than nothing. That was all confirmed over the phone and on we went.
Wheelie bins, tables, whiteboards, a fridge, a dishwasher, lockers, swivel chairs and more. Most of these items can be used at a sports facility, but we still have quite a way to go to build the facility we have planned. Our first project is an artificial football pitch, planned for St. James, Jamaica. Having visited numerous schools in St. James, asking questions about their sports facilities, equipment and coaching, I knew that all these items would be gratefully received by many schools and educational establishments in the parish. Education is an extremely powerful way to develop a community, to develop a country. With the donations from Collecteco, we were able to help some of the schools in St. James, and that was exactly what we were going to do!
We resumed contact with the Ministry of Education, which is based in Montego Bay, St. James. We had already spoken to this organisation a few times, researching and gathering information for The HummingBirds, and making clear the work the charity wants to do on the island. Having these meetings made us familiar with the organisation, exposed us to many issues within education in Jamaica, and started laying the foundations for a long-term relationship. Resuming contact with them at this point was to make clear to them the furniture we were delivering to Jamaica, and what we wanted to do with it.
Thousands of pounds worth of furniture was delivered by, and some collected from, Collecteco. These items went to a shipping company based in east London, before traveling for a little over two weeks to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Unfortunately, The HummingBirds struggled with the cost of shipping all of these items. To make things worse, there were more costs than just the cost of the shipping. We also had to pay to clear most of the items when they arrived in Jamaica. That meant more money needed to be raised, and I must thank AFC Whyteleafe for all the help they have given in helping our charity raise funds. They successfully raffled a signed shirt, which helped to raise the needed funds to clear and deliver the items. We were being charged for every day the items spent waiting to be cleared, so their help was extremely important and thankfully received.
It was primarily the Ministry of Education who decided what school, pre-school or basic school would receive what, helping those who needed what we were able to deliver. We made a trip to the parish of St. James in September 2022 to explore the work we had done. We personally met with the Ministry of Education again and they directed us to the schools they had already given furniture to. We visited some of the schools to see who, and how we had managed to help, and to see the furniture being used. As you can imagine, tables, chairs and whiteboards go a long way in helping to teach. To supply bins, a fridge and lockers really help to improve the setting, making things more comfortable. The relief and gratitude was evident on the teachers faces, along with the excitement of children being able to do more things for themselves, such as run a tuck shop! The tuck shop is now a useful source of income for the school. The school told me that the money raised by the tuck shop is mostly used to fund extra-curricular activities for the pupils, including subsidising swimming lessons and supporting the gymnastics club.
We must thank Collecteco for all their donations, which helped us to make this possible! Because of Collecteco, The HummingBirds charity has been able to help three different schools and hundreds of children in St. James, Jamaica, by supplying them with thousands of pounds worth of needed equipment and resources. We would not have been able to give this help without the support we have received from AFC Whyteleafe, donations, fundraising and the support we get from all those who help The HummingBirds charity.
We believe that this is just the beginning of our work with Collecteco and helping in the Caribbean. It was quite a long journey for different reasons, but we have reached a destination, hit a target, and helped a lot of people. We have made it easier for many to learn and to teach in St. James, while we learnt our own lessons along the way. Seeing the results of our efforts still puts a smile on our faces and almost butterflies in our stomachs. Completing this project has added more fuel to our fire, given us more wind beneath our wings, wind that will help The HummingBirds fly. Collecteco help The HummingBirds fly!
Let's All Play!