Angel Gilbert ascribes to the adage that giving back and blessing others is important. She said it is better to give than to receive and it makes her feel good knowing that she has made someone else happy when she does. So, it was no surprise to anyone when the James Cistern Primary School student hosted a 2022 Thanksgiving luncheon for elderly residents from three neighboring settlements on Eleuthera, to show gratitude to the people who she said can sometimes be forgotten.
Angel, 11, has also organized a cleanup campaign with the aid of her family and classmates and gave toys to every student in her school and other students in neighboring community schools.
“I think I got my giving spirit from my mom,” said the daughter of Kamitzeon Albury and Patrick Gilbert. “My mom always gives gifts to teachers and students whenever she is able to, especially during Teacher’s Appreciation Week, birthdays and any occasion.”
Prior to last year’s luncheon, Angel had organized a luncheon in December 2020, during the pandemic.
“Due to lockdowns and restrictions, I said to my parents that since we cannot celebrate my birthday with my usual birthday party, what if I celebrate by cooking and taking food and drinks to my friends. Just the idea of getting out the house seemed fun at the time. As my mom and I discussed the idea, I thought of my grandparents, grandaunts and uncles and how I had not seen them for a long time. I asked mommy if we could take food to them as well. My mom agreed and decided that we might as well share the joy with neighboring elderly folks also. Hot lunches and drinks were delivered to people in James Cistern where I live, Hatchet Bay and Gregory Town.”
During her second luncheon in November 2022, Angel said it was the reminder of the word “grateful” that pricked her heart.
“In class, we covered the topic Thanksgiving – discussed how to give thanks, be grateful for what you have and giving back to people less fortunate than ourselves. I always share my school experiences with my mother who agreed and said, ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive.’ I told her how happy I felt sharing my eighth birthday with the elderly, and asked if we could prepare Thanksgiving lunch for people who cannot cook for themselves and the elderly are often forgotten. My mom decided to do the cooking on Universal Children’s Day. (World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.) I am good at baking, and she allowed me to make pumpkin roll and banana bread for the dessert. We invited 28 people from James Cistern, Governor’s Harbour, Hatchet Bay and Gregory Town were invited.”
Both luncheons were paid for by Angel’s parents and family.
“They call it a generous initiative,” said the sixth-grade student who is her school’s nominee for the Bahamas Primary School of the Year Foundation award.
Angel said the cleanup campaign was organized because she saw a need for cleaning the area around the school campus and surrounding area.
“When I told my teacher and classmate about the garbage on the perimeter of our school during a science lesson, and asked if we could get together and remove it after school, they all agreed. I also shared the idea with my mom who said, ‘If you don’t like the way it looks, you know what you have to do.’ My thoughts went into motion and on December 5, 2022, my school family, home family and friends came and worked together to enhance the beauty and cleanliness of our campus.”
During the cleanup exercise, she said they collected bottles, cans, juice packets and plastics.
As for her toy donation, she said she simply thought about the children that may not have a toy or gift to open at Christmas and that some children like herself had so many.
“I told my parents that I don’t really need anything for Christmas and some children wouldn’t have any gifts, so instead of buying for me, they could buy toys for us to give to those who may need. Mommy told my dad, aunts, uncles and godparents and they all bought gifts to share with others.”
Angel’s Christmas Toy Drive took place on December 14, 2022. She delivered seven gifts to four schools in the district. And on December 16, 2022, all of the students at her school received a gift.
The tween, who is also head girl at James Cistern Primary School, believes more of her peers should engage in philanthropy.
“It makes you feel good inside knowing that you made someone smile and [you] don’t look for anything back.”
She also expressed gratitude at being named head girl at her school.
“I always wanted to be a school leader, so that I could encourage my peers and be an example to the younger students,” said Angel.
As head girl, some of her responsibilities include monitoring classes while staff members meet. Also, as an ambassador for James Cistern Primary School, she is called upon to represent the school at school-based events which she said means she has to always be prepared physically and mentally.
Angel also takes her academics seriously and has maintained honor roll status throughout her primary school years.
She has a 3.63 cumulative grade point average.
“Education is my life,” said the tween.
“I have a strong home, school, and community support. They encourage me to always do my best.”