Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

‘Give A Likkle’: De-Andrea Jackson’s Philanthropy

By WK Admin Feb29,2024 #Jamaica
Bear-The-Jeep-Wrangler-De-Andrea-Jackson-Jamaica-Writes-And-KulchaLateral view of “Bear”, De-Andrea Jackson’s Jeep Wrangler, adorned for the festive season.

The idea of individualism is prevalent in today’s society, from the COVID-19 global pandemic that physically divided us, to social media that creates the appearance of connectedness, but actually keeps us apart. Nonetheless, there are still many people who are concerned with the greater good, and have committed their life to serving a purpose greater than themselves. De-Andrea Jackson is one such person. She is so committed to giving back that she has founded a non-profit organisation dedicated to the concept of sharing, and chosen to execute her own “Mrs. Claus” mission at the end of each year to further this philosophy. Join us as we look at her remarkable journey and how her acts of kindness have touched people’s hearts and impacted communities, from the establishment of The Free Likkle Cupboard to her joyful Christmas modifications to “Bear” the Jeep

You do so much, and yet you’ve managed to remain in the background over the years. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am De-Andrea Jackson, founder of The Free Likkle Cupboard, a non-profit organisation. Christmas holds a special place in my heart, and I have discovered a meaningful way to combine my passion for the holiday season and my dedication to giving back. With the goal of spreading joy and making a difference, I am committed to bringing smiles and creating positive change until my time on this earth is done.

What inspired that contribution, and when did the journey begin? 

I’ve always been inspired to give back due to my environment. Coming from a family of givers, I was fortunate to witness this firsthand. From a young age, I actively participated in various groups like the Leo club, Brownies, and Girl Guides, which further instilled in me the importance of helping others. These experiences also exposed me to individuals in need. 

My desire to give back comes from the belief that each of us has a responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. By giving back, we can contribute to the goodness that exists in our communities and help create a more compassionate and supportive society… It’s  something that just feels right and natural to me. 

De-Andrea Jackson (second left) and her Free Likkle Cupboard, as pictured with CVM at Sunrise TV hosts Dennis Brooks and Khadine ‘Miss Kitty’ Hylton-Wilkinson.

You created The Free Likkle Cupboard with this in mind, how does it work, and how has it grown since? 

It was launched in the summer of 2020, during the global pandemic. This idea had always been close to my heart, and it felt like the right moment to start given the closure of various businesses due to curfews, and increased need in our Jamaican communities. The concept behind The Free Likkle Cupboard is inspired by the global free pantry movement. This initiative operates on a simple principle – individuals who have extra items can contribute to the cupboard, while those in need are welcome to take from it. Items such as: tin food, books, school supplies, clothes etc. These small cupboards were placed in various locations across Jamaica. Our motto, “tek a likkle and give a likkle,” emphasises the importance of both receiving and giving, which creates mutual support and generosity. 

Since its inception, the initiative has experienced a lot of growth. We currently have 13 cupboards in operation, with four more fully completed, set to come out soon, and we’re excited to share that another two are currently in the works. 

The Grinch as pictured on “Bear”, De-Andrea Jackson’s Jeep Wrangler.

We love that! Is that also what inspired you to decorate your Jeep for the holidays?

The magical spirit of Christmas brings me immense joy, so the inspiration behind decorating my Jeep and spreading Christmas cheer stemmed from my love for the holiday season at first. Then in 2022, I noticed the positive impact it had on people’s lives. Having seen cars in America, particularly Jeep Wranglers being adorned with decorations, I decided to decorate my own, which I named Bear.  People on the road would express how much it brightens their day, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Encouraged by this, I decided to take it a step further last Christmas by adding even more decorations and an extra element of surprise— by giving out small Christmas gifts to adults and children. 

I want to keep the childlike wonder and magic of the holiday alive for myself and others. By making Bear a vessel for spreading Christmas cheer, I hope to brighten the days of those I encounter and create a sense of joy and magic during the most wonderful time of the year. I hope others will be inspired to join in, too, to decorate their cars and spread Christmas cheer. 

What was the preparation process like to get it decorated and take the dressing off after the season? 

Quite involved. It requires planning a month plus in advance, as I need to ensure I have all the necessary décor in time for the holiday season. Since finding all the required Christmas decorations in Jamaica can be challenging, I often have to order some items from abroad.

Putting up the decorations and taking them down is a task I handle on my own. While I thoroughly enjoy adorning my car, I must admit that taking down the decorations is not my favourite part. It takes time and careful attention to untie and remove everything, with a goal of salvaging as much of the decor as possible. 

“Bear”, De-Andrea Jackson’s Jeep Wrangler, in full Christmas splendour.

What were the reactions like? Any favourites?

Incredibly heartwarming. I’ve received an abundance of positive responses, with countless smiles, people pointing in awe, and a sense of shared excitement. So many people stopped me for photo ops or took pictures and videos on the road. 

Amidst these interactions, there are a few standout moments that will forever hold a special place in my heart. One particular memory is seeing the sheer love and gratitude on the face of a little girl as I handed her tiny toys. Another unforgettable encounter was when a mother approached me at a Wendy‘s drive-thru, solely for her son to catch a glimpse of the adorned car. The look of pure delight on his face when I presented him with his toys was truly priceless. He wiggled in mom’s arms with so much joy as they walked away. Even a taxi full of older gentlemen couldn’t contain their laughter and admiration for my decorated car. 

These experiences, along with many other wonderful encounters, serve as a reminder of the joy and happiness that can be shared through simple acts of spreading Christmas cheer.

We certainly agree, and are eager to see how De-Andrea will up the ante this year. Did you see her car around? Would you try this trend? Tell us in the comments!

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