Hundreds sail back into class with backpacks donated by award-winning Royal Caribbean International

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MP for Andros and the Berry Island Carlton Bowleg distributes backpacks to residents of Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands during a fun-filled afternoon hosted by Royal Caribbean International. (Photo by Bahamas Visual Services for DPA.)

Hundreds of students will return to school in Nassau and the Berry Islands with snazzy backpacks filled with supplies, thanks to Royal Caribbean International. The award-winning cruise line distributed sturdy orange, blue and green backpacks stuffed to the brim with supplies to every student in the Berry Islands, and to hundreds in Fox Hill and Pinewood Gardens. Dozens were sent to an economically challenged area in South Eleuthera.

“Royal Caribbean has been spreading its corporate wing and I appreciate it. I know for a fact because we, Russell Benford and I, have been all through Pinewood and Fox Hill. I know for a fact their interest
and their love for you, their respect and their love for the Bahamian people,” said Pinewood MP Reuben Rahming, during a back-to-school event at Lighthouse Fellowship Church of God, Pinewood Gardens.
Hours later, Royal Caribbean starred at a backpack distribution in Fox Hill.

“Royal Caribbean is serious about its commitment to the community,” said Shonel Ferguson, Fox Hill MP, who addressed students at Church of God, Bernard Road Friday. “The company has demonstrated how much it cares about the Fox Hill community and The Bahamas over and over.” RCI’s Fox Hill connection includes support for the Bahamas Feeding Network. It is providing so much food to help fight hunger that the Network, operating out of a modest cottage on Fox Hill Road, has
been able to increase its hot meal distribution from 3,500 meals a week to nearly 5,000 this year. And when a basketball team from one of the most economically challenged communities in the country
walked away with the national title, Royal Caribbean invited them aboard a ship for a day of fun and leisure. Ferguson was there for that experience, too. Now she is explaining to students the opportunities for jobs aboard a ship.

“You don’t have to be a server or work in the laundry,” she said. “There are lots of jobs aboard a cruise ship and with the company. You can be an accountant, nurse, doctor, customer service representative.” According to Royal Caribbean International Vice President, Government Relations, Americas, Russell Benford, Royal Caribbean’s relationship with The Bahamas is a top priority. “The Bahamas was our first port of call 50 years ago this year and to this day remains our number one port of call out of 135 places we go,” said Benford. “Earlier this year we opened our most exciting experience in our itinerary following a $250 million investment in PerfectDay at CocoCay and our number one priority in hiring worldwide is Bahamians so it is only fitting that when back to school time approaches, we look for ways to assist and we are pleased to do so.”

Benford, who intended to be in Nassau for the events, was instead in Miami at the company’s headquarters as it scrambled ships and staff to maximize all safety measures in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. His absence did not stop the repeated message of thank you like this one from Church of God, Bernard Road youth pastor Jones. “We would like to say a special thank you to Royal Caribbean and their team. We appreciate you,” he said.

Members of Lighthouse Fellowship Church of God in Pinewood Gardens are all ready to return to the classrooms thanks to Royal Caribbean International’s donation of backpacks filled with school supplies. Students are pictured with Rueben Rahming MP for Pinewood and Pastor Eileen Johnson.  (Photo by Bahamas Visual Services for DPA.)

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