You can call him the Trini Santa.
Last weekend, central businessman Allan Sieunarine brought Christmas cheer to thousands of children across the country, whose families were severely affected by flooding in September.
Accompanied by police escort and about 30 helpers, Sieunarine who is the owner of All Exana’s Enterprises Ltd, distributed toys to youngsters in Preysal, Woodland and Brasso Seco, during the drive, which began last Saturday and ended on Sunday. His on Alex, dressed as Santa Claus, gave out gifts to the children.
The toy drive is a new initiative for the Preysal-based company, which has been distributing Christmas hampers to impoverished and disadvantaged families in central Trinidad and other parts of the country for the past 15 years. Newsday learnt the businessman was inspired to give back to society in his own way by starting a toy drive after several young children asked the group for toys during the hamper distribution exercises.
Sieunarine’s friend, Rodney Deonanan, who has helped give out hampers over the years, told Newsday: “What inspired the toy drive was that on the last two occasions of the hamper distribution, we saw a lot of children and they looked out for toys. So, we decided to do it differently and add on to the hampers.”
Deonanan said they were able to give out more than 4,000 toys. “We had Santa Claus and music truck, the works. We started off in the central area because the company is based in Preysal. So, we headed down to the Woodland area on the Saturday and the next day, we headed up to Brasso Seco,” Sieunarine said.
Saying the toy drive is expected to an annual event for the company, Deonanan said the children were overwhelmed during the day-long exercises. “This is my first experience with the toy drive and it was overwhelming to see the joy on the faces of these people and their children in some of these impoverished homes. I think it will trigger off an even bigger response from the friends who were with us on the day.”
Deonanan said the hamper distribution drive, for which the All Exana’s is well-known, started as an exercise to give back to the community. “For the past 15 years, we have been giving out hampers to needy families. We usually give back to the community. So, we look around for the needy homes and share hampers.”
Deonanan said over the years, hampers were distributed to church groups, orphanages and homeless shelters in various parts of the country. He said Christmas offered an opportune time for citizens to become civic-minded in caring for those that are less fortunate, and who, through no fault of their own, had fallen on hard times. “We have to again be our brother’s keeper in keeping with the spirit of the season,” Deonanan said.