Yassin Hall By YASSIN HALL
The U.S. Virgin Islands will be receiving 90 of the much-needed laptops and tablets to enable children in need keep up with their schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a fundraiser spearheaded by philanthropist and mental health advocate, Yassin Hall.
Ms. Hall, a native of the islands who now lives in Atlanta, Georgia is working directly with Carol Callwood, STT, STJ & STX Federation of Teachers to ensure the students in need receive a device, according to a release issued late Monday. While the local government was able to provide some devices, many students were left without a portion of the devices ordered by the government will not arrive until later this year.
“So many families are not able to afford technology right now especially in homes where multiple children must be in different classrooms and grades at the same time,” said Ms. Hall. “The thing is the U.S. Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States items take even longer to reach them. Those of us who can, we must do what we could to help these kids who are simply trying to cope in the new normal amid this pandemic."
The Chromebooks were ordered by the Department of Education in July but due to the demand, the manufactures were already backlogged. School began on September 14th, with the majority of the students starting without a device.
Ms. Hall appealed to her social media followers to assist and started the fundraiser by donating $5.000 from her own business and got into action by shopping in various stores around Atlanta and over twenty neighboring cities picking up tablets, according to the release.
The release said teachers and parents flocked to Ms. Hall’s social media pages expressing gratitude for what she is doing to help students. One mother, Kimeshia, was moved to tears, saying she had been wondering what to do to get her six-year-old son equipment to stay on track, according to the release.
"We don't know each other but I've followed you for a year. I just wanted to say, I have a lot of love and respect for you,” said Kimeshia. “I saw your video which made me cry. It was wonderful to see someone who's heart is in the right place and so passionate in helping the children of the USVI. I just wanted to thank you for doing this for our kids. It truly takes a village."
Ms. Hall is no stranger to giving back and offering help to the USVI community when she can. In January 2020, Hall received notice that a nonprofit received a $300,000 grant to ensure that every student in the territory would receive free mental health care as a result of Ms. Hall’s decade-long advocacy for awareness. She detailed her experience as the child of a violent bipolar schizophrenic in her bestselling books ‘Beyond The Love Curse’ and ‘Journey Untold’.
“The goal is to ensure every child has the ability to be able to start school with the required equipment,” said Ms. Hall. “It is up to us to do whatever little we can to help, whether that means contributing enough for five laptops or contributing just $50 to help towards shipping. Every little bit counts.”