Olympic 4x400m relay silver medallist Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby, former sprint hurdler Trishana McGowan, and former sprinter-turned-bobsledder Carrie Russell were recently present at the Walker’s Place of Safety in Richmond Park, Kingston, to give Christmas gifts to children of the home. These gifts were all donations made by athletes of MVP, Akan and Sprintec Track clubs. A cake was also donated by MVP President Bruce James on behalf of his club. Books were also handed to the children, and organiser McGowan, a former MVP athlete, says that she giving them books is more important than toys because it is a more lasting gesture, as it allows them to develop a joy for learning. A JOY “A lot of the children here do go to school, so it’s needed,” McGowan says. “It’s always a joy just to watch children enjoy gifts. Even as adults, we enjoy gifts for birthdays or even Christmas.” Russell agrees with McGowan about the lasting effect of giving books as gifts. “I’m one of them who believes in education [being a trained teacher herself]. I normally get books. “I’ve been doing this for two years now. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but my mom and dad ensured that every Christmas, I always had something to look forward to, and it’s a good feeling to let these kids look forward to something too. McLaughlin-Whilby says that she and McGowan have been visiting the Walker’s Place of Safety since they were university students in 2010. She says that she just wants to put smiles on the children’s faces. “Last year, when we were speaking to the owner, she said some of them (the children) aren’t visited by their parents or families, so I’m always happy to bring a little joy into their lives” Grace Allen has been managing the home for 30 years and says the gifts are much appreciated. She says they help to make watching over the children easier, as sometimes they can be quite a handful. The home, which was founded in 1972, currently has 35 children ages 3 to 17 enrolled. – R.P.