I was recently a part of the 2016 Beaches Social Media on the Sand conference, a travel blogger conference where I received discounted accommodations as a part of the conference. We also had the opportunity to participate in resort activities. This included both traditional vacation and special Beaches and Sandals Resorts options, like the Reading Roadtrip. Giving back on vacation? Sign me up!
(Photo credit: LaShawn Wiltz)
When I travel, I love exploring new places and locales. There are times when I want to give back to the countries that have shared so much of their beauty with tourists who live lives they can’t possibly imagine. Sandals and Beaches Resorts recognize this, and they created the Sandals Foundation. This is their charitable giving arm to give back to the Caribbean nations where they build their luxury resorts. This, to me, is absolute perfection.
Giving Back on Vacation: Pack for a Purpose
Giving back on vacation with Beaches resorts is so easy. The Sandals Foundation focuses on education, environment, and the community. When you book a vacation at a Beaches or Sandals Resort, you can easily check a needed supply list. Simply bring up to five pounds for each person vacationing from that list. Five pounds sounds like a lot until you start adding notebooks and crayons, gluesticks and books. Suddenly you realize how easy it is to give back on vacation.
Simply Pack for a Purpose (the official name of this partner program) and drop your items at the front desk of your resort. Since 2010, Pack for a Purpose travelers have taken almost 150,000 pounds of supplies meeting essential needs in over 60 countries. It’s amazing how so little adds up to so much when so many participate. There are specific needs for each location. All are useful, practical items, not the candy or balloons you picture handing to children.
Give Back on Vacation: Reading Roadtrips
Additionally, guests at Beaches Resorts can easily get involved outside supply donations. Add a two hour donation of time with a Reading Roadtrip. In Jamaica, we did just this. Beaches Negril Resort and Spa has multiple schools they adopted where you can have a fantastic experience helping children with their literacy skills. And the kids are thrilled to see volunteers. (Especially when some of us brought portable printers and shared photos for them to take home!)
Simply sign up at the Island Routes excursion desk which has the specific days and times for your resort. In Jamaica, we headed out on a Thursday mid-morning. The small $25 fee covers the cost of transportation and a donation to the Sandals Foundation. Once there, it’s priceless.
With so many volunteers the day we went, each child at the Happy Hearts Early Childhood Center received one on one attention. Much like our classrooms, this is something they don’t get often in school. I partnered with Nishawn, a shy boy (according to his teacher) who couldn’t wait to tell me all about his favorite type of dinosaur, his baby brother in the next room and slightly older cousin in the next classroom. I found out that he wants to be a pediatrician when he grows up and that The Gingerbread Man is his favorite book.
We had time to read several books – including The Gingerbread Man three times. This allowed him to grow more and more engaged with each retelling. From his first nervous smiles as I acted out all the voices just like I used to with my kids when they were small to his reading along with me, his fingers tracing each word, by our last book, I loved watching his confidence grow.
We helped with letter recognition and other literacy activities and a short time of play before our two hours were up. The time simply flew by, and the smiles on all the kids’ faces made the time more than worth it. It’s a simple task, two hours from a week long vacation. That small time makes such a difference, however. Whether you choose to Pack for a Purpose or enjoy a Reading Roadtrip, find a way to give back the next time you travel to a Sandals or Beaches Resort.
Giving Back on Vacation: Sandals Foundation
The Sandals Foundation overall is a model in identifying and fulfilling local needs. The governance costs are completely underwritten by Sandals Resorts International Limited. That means every dollar you donate goes straight to use, not for marketing or salaries or accounting fees. This includes building community centers, helping to maintain local environments for future generations, and obviously so much with education.
The Sandals Foundation is currently pushing hard for help with recovery from Hurricane Matthew. As big as the news was in the States about the storm of the century – that for the most part caused less damage than forecast – in the Caribbean, especially Haiti, this wasn’t the case. The devastation there is appalling. There are basic needs and rebuilding the Sandals Foundation aims to meet.
Right now, you can donate via a special effort for this relief. Social Specialty is matching donations dollar for dollar up to $10,000. Please, I beg you, donate. Even if it’s $10 or $20 to this effort. To track the donations for matching, it’s a GoFundMe page. Do what you can, knowing 100% of every dollar raised goes straight to relief. And if you do donate, please put my name in the comments – Michelle Price, Honest & Truly! Together, we can help.
Have you ever thought about giving back on vacation?