Here is a beginning list of ideas and items culled from the "Jamaica...How You Can Help" thread.

By all means, PLEASE continue to contribute to this list of ideas with your own suggestions, tips, website links...anything at all that will help those wanting and willing to reach out but who may not have had any idea how to go about it.


Age Appropriate School or Orphanage Supplies to Donate

Basic Schools (ages 2 - 6)

Musical Instruments

  • tambourines
  • drums
  • recorders
  • shakers
  • etc.

Stationery Supplies

  • pencils and pens
  • writing books
  • glue, glue sticks
  • crayons
  • “composition books”
  • markers
  • erasers
  • construction paper
  • rounded "safety" scissors
  • pencil sharpeners (personal..or better yet, a sturdy metal one able to be mounted on a wall or desktop!)
  • backpacks
  • phonics books
  • flash cards

Other Items

  • Games
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • coloring books
  • small toys
  • jump ropes
  • soft bats/balls
  • “Play Dough” type clay
  • puppets
  • stickers
  • anything “preschool or kindgergarten” appropriate

All Age Schools (ages 6 - 15)

  • Cricket bats
  • Tennis balls
  • Volley balls
  • Soccer balls
  • Net balls

Bring the balls uninflated....bring a hand pump to go with the ball?

  • Skipping Ropes
  • jacks
  • marbles

Stationery Supplies

  • pencils
  • pens
  • crayons
  • markers
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • chalk( white & coloured)
  • sharpeners
  • rulers
  • notebooks
  • folder paper
  • pencil sharpeners (personal..or better yet, a sturdy metal one able to be mounted on a wall or desktop!)
  • backpacks
  • glue, glue sticks
  • puppets
  • stickers
  • Modeling Clay
  • Stencils
  • watercolor box sets with brushes
  • Learning Charts
  • Learning games
  • Math flash cards
  • up-to-date textbooks
  • calculators (solar, not battery powered)

If space or weight is a factor, consider buying the items once in Jamaica..perhaps a bit more costly than if found on sale ‘at home’...but the money spent circulates within the Jamaican economy.

Office supplies such as pens, notebooks, paperclips, post-it notes, etc. can be put to good use by the school or orphanage administration.

Personal Items to Donate

  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • shampoos
  • hand cream
  • hairbrushes and combs
  • scented candles
  • carving tools
  • sandpaper & shoe polish for the crafters
  • small tool kits
  • zip-lock baggies
  • sunglasses

Baby Needs

  • diapers
  • wet wipes
  • tissues
  • baby lotion
  • baby shampoo
  • baby spoons
  • baby bottles
  • children’s sized bowls, cups, eating utensils
  • plastic plates
  • snack foods
  • Tupperware type containers with lids
  • dolls (look for dark skinned ones that look like most Jamaican chidren you will meet)
  • stuffed animals
  • liquid bubble blowing bottles
  • toys (nothing battery powered please...batteries are expensive and a luxury.

Toys should be safe to use, nothing tiny and breakable.

Medicinal Items

  • bandaids
  • feminine hygiene products
  • aspirin (adults or children)
  • Tylenol
  • children’s vitamins
  • anti-bacteria creams
  • Mercurichrome
  • children's cold/cough medicine
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Gauze and tape
  • Scissors
  • tweezers
  • thermometers
  • disposable gloves
  • powder
  • Q-Tips


  • shoes
  • socks
  • shirts
  • jeans
  • sneakers
  • training panties
  • sandals/slides
  • caps and t-shirts
  • sweatshirts (yes, to those of us living here, it DOES feel cold in the winter (!)
  • childrens underwear (new)

Even gently used clothing, if in GOOD (or better yet...EXCELLENT shape) is always appreciated.

Donating clothing because it has been outgrown is perfectly acceptable, BUT, clothing should ALWAYS be clean and of good quality even though gently ripped hems, no missing buttons, no stains...if it’s not good enough for you or your children to wear, it will not be looked upon with appreciation in Jamaica.

Organizations to Consider

Getting Through Customs

Please make sure that you have your declaration forms correctly filled out! The products that you are taking into Jamaica are liable for duty, unless you can prove that they are gifts or donations.

Declare  Used school material for children. NOT FOR SALE. Gifts. NON COMMERCIAL VALUE  Value for customs purposes ONLY: $25 U.S.dollars.

Other recommendations, and examples:

  1. Take some kind of invoice or statement.. With a typed, signed and stamped Declaration form.... Do not put a value onto each item. Treat them as one bundle or one lot of toys. No prices.
  2. Goods of no commercial value. Not for sale. Charity to Blossom Garden Childrens Orphanage, Montego Bay. ADDRESS.
  3. Please get your Church or Bank or any organisation to put a stamp and sign it. Even your accountant. Jamaican custom officials love to see documents that look authentic. This document can even be shown to the airlines Manager at check in time, just in case they want you to pay over-weight. Charity donations are hard to justify without a signed document and declaration.
  4. Please do not forget to take off the price tags and unwrap any prewrapped packages

How to Visit Schools

  • Set up an appointment ahead of time if making the visit on your own.  The principal or head teacher will let you know the best time of day to visit so as not to disrupt the children’s regular school day routine.
  • If you don’t have a particular school in mind and make an “impromptu visit” to one while traveling. BE SURE to leave all items in the vehicle, let the principal or head teacher know of your intentions for the day, ask and follow their advice for best accomplishing the goals of your visit.
  • If arranging for a private ride/tour somewhere, your driver will know someplace for you to stop if you bring up your wishes, whether you correspond with the driver by phone or email.
  • If you want to contribute, but don't know a school, bring the items anyway. You will definitely meet someone who can use them or can forward the items to a school.
  • Check with the management at your hotel to get their recommendations. 

How to Create Chaos in a Classroom or School


How to Make the Teachers NONE to Thrilled With YOU!

  • drop in unannounced and immediately start doling out your gifts
  • don’t bring enough of something so that some children are left out
  • pass out gobs of candy
  • whip out your camera and start snapping away
  • show one child the photo and be prepared to be buried alive under a mountain of normally well behaved children who make the words “hyper” and “overly excited” words you will care not EVER to hear again! 

Contacts for Individuals Willing to Help Disperse Your Donations

Negril area and Whitehouse/Black River

  • Soloman and Sienna Kerr
  • Talk Of The Town Tours
  • Miss Sonia - Miss Sonia’s Patties Norman Manley Blvd. in Negril(beach road - close to the Jungle nightclub)

In Canada   

How NOT to Distribute Goods

  • Throwing candy and toys out your vehicle window...this is not the New Orleans Mardi Gras.
  • The school children are not zoo animals or pets to be fed with treats because they’re so “cute” and you’d like them to perform for you. Luckily, this does not happen a majority of the time...and you certainly don’t want to fall into this category of “givers” !
  • If leaving items with hotel staff, you must include a note itemizing the gifts that also has your name and room number on it, stating that these are gifts or items you have donated.