In a year full of great progress and achievement, 2010 proved to be a year in which TOCO was allowed to shine in presenting great opportunities to the children we serve as well as respond to the year’s greatest challenges. TOCO’s primary goal in all of its programs and missions is to serve those in need by simply lending a hand or opening a door. The TOCO team is never alone in doing the work that needs to be done. We give thanks for the constant support from our family, friends, fans, donors and supporters who believe in us and in what we are destined to do for others.
Special thanks goes to those who organized fundraisers – the Valparaiso University Men’s Soccer team, Scott Evans in Cleveland, and the Blue Point Brewery, who contributes of portion of the sale of their RastafaRye beer to TOCO. We thank the coaches that gave their time and talent to help us launch a new soccer program - Mike Avery and Jeff Oleck, David Stroud, Andy McCaslin, and Dan Thibault. Our donors are too numerous to name but without you, we would literally not be able to function. You gave money, balls, gear, medical supplies, shoes and most importantly, your positive energy and support. Your donations helped to get us to where we needed to go and allowed us to do what we needed to do. Please continue to think about the children we serve, the people we reach out to and those that commit themselves to the work. 2011 is here and we have wonderful projects on the horizon. Before we look ahead, here is a look back at 2010.
JANUARY 2010 – HAITI IS ROCKED BY A DEVASTING EARTHQUAKE
On January 12, 2010, the world witnessed the effects of a devastating earthquake on the island of Haiti. In the midst of such overwhelming despair and need, TOCO answered by providing a simple need – shoes. TOCO’s campaign, “Get Haiti Back on its Feet” brought together communities from across the country – New York, Ohio, Indiana – to collect over 3000 children’s shoes and sneakers to distribute to orphanages and people living in tent cities due to the earthquake. Efforts to bring the shoes directly to those in need proved difficult due to political and social challenges in Haiti, however TOCO found a partner in Shoes 2 Share – a grassroots organization that provides footwear to children and families in need around the world – to help in bringing the shoes to Haiti.
MARCH 2010 – TOCO INTRODUCES THE CLOTHESLINE PROJECT TO ST. LUCIA
March is International Women’s Month and TOCO, in collaboration with the Division of Gender Relations, the Crisis Centre and HTS/Radio 100 in St. Lucia, launched one of its enrichment programs - the Clothesline Project. TOCO reached out to the women and children of St. Lucia to share their stories by contributing a t-shirt for a clothesline. The goal was to raise awareness of domestic violence in the Caribbean, specifically how domestic violence affects children physically, emotionally and psychologically. The Clothesline Project began in Cape Cod in 1990 as a vehicle for women to express their emotions on a t-shirt and has spread around the world. In St. Lucia, t-shirts were displayed on a clothesline in Derek Walcott Square in downtown Castries – St. Lucia’s capital. In some cases the "artists" had been victims themselves, and wrote in an effort to get their stories out there, hoping that it would help other victims of abuse realize they
were not alone. At the same time, they hoped it would help them finally let go of the pain of their own experiences. TOCO would like to thank all of the women who participated for their strength and courage in telling their stories and inspiring others to tell their own.
NOVEMBER 2010 – HURRICANE TOMAS CAUSES WIDESPREAD DEVASTATION IN PARTS OF ST. LUCIA
TOCO’s response to the people of St. Lucia affected by Hurricane Tomas was a personal one for Taj Weekes. He was already planning to go to St. Lucia to launch another program, but this event took on special meaning. Taj personally purchased and collected water, emergency supplies, and clothes to send to the parts of St. Lucia that were most affected. TOCO created the St. Lucia Disaster Relief Fund, raising over $3000. To all of those who contributed to this effort, we thank you for your prayers and support.
DECEMBER 2010 – TOCO LAUNCHES THE TOCO COLLEGE SHOWCASE
The TOCO team landed in St. Lucia in early December to select its best and brightest soccer players for a chance to receive athletic scholarships to study and play for U.S. colleges and universities. The TOCO College Showcase is designed to identify students that have the required grades and attendance as well as the athleticism required to receive a full scholarship to a U.S. college or university. To insure the successful launch of the program, TOCO worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the St. Lucia Football Association (SLFA), and the Sacred Sports Foundation. National tryouts, coordinated by Delroy Alexander of the SLFA and Sandra Alexander of the Sacred Sports Foundation, took place over the course of two days at the George Odlum National Stadium in Vieux Fort and the Gros Islet playing field. Over 350 students overall gathered for a once in a lifetime opportunity to play the game that they love abroad. The
coaches were amazed by the level of talent, skill, and sportsmanship exhibited both on and off the field. TOCO will formally announce the names of those chosen to receive scholarships this Spring.