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A Corrie Christmas


Gercine Carter

A Corrie Christmas

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It’s the day before Christmas Eve and there is a flurry of activity at the Corrie house in Highgate Gardens, St Michael.
Presents are being wrapped, there is a constant stream of traffic with people stopping by to drop off gifts, while the Corrie children and grandchildren move in and out, checking on the progress of the gift-collection and wrapping exercise.
They are all preparing for the big gift-giving in Pondside, The City, at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve when smiles will light up the faces of 66 children as they receive the presents in a tradition to which they have grown accustomed.
Audrey and Geddes Corrie are merely carrying what started when they were both teenagers – she playing volleyball for Maxwell Girls’ Club; he holding the position
of treasurer of the boys’ volleyball club.
Every Christmas, club member went to the children’s homes, the Nightengale Home, the  Sterling Children’s Home, taking cheer. Parents chipped in to help make Christmas a delightful and fun experience for these less fortunate youngsters as their jobs took much of their time, ruling out the possibility of continuing involvement in the annual Christmas charity.
However, Audrey Corrie and some of the other females felt it was too worthy a venture to allow it to die. They found other children in need and carried on the practice. Over the last 30 years they have distributed 3 000 Christmas presents.
With the cessation of the children’s home party, the beneficiaries became children of Pondside in Bridgetown.
Audrey  explained: “There is this lady (Marjorie Cummins) who works at the Convent, who lives in the Pondside area. I asked her: ‘What about the area where you live? Are there a lot of kids around?’
“I told her about what we were interested in doing for the children and she said: ‘I am sure they would be happy.’”
In the ensuing years, more than 100 children between the ages of one day and 12 years old from that section of The City  have been brought Christmas cheer by the Corries and their team each year.
As many of them later became parents, their children became recipients of the presents.
Though circumstances forced the scaling down of the annual party, the Corries continued to provide the children with gifts, transported to Pondside by Geddes in his four-wheel “sleigh”.
Audrey is assisted in purchasing the gifts each year by members of  the immediate Corrie family and by staff at St Angela’s and St Ursula’s private schools, with some  parents of the two schools getting involved and donating gifts, clearly influenced by the Corries’ acts.
Audrey pulls her own pocket for about 20 of those gifts. She checks all gift items solicited before delivery to the children, to ensure they are both new and “of the kind that I?would also give to children in our own family”.
“Just because the children we are giving to are less fortunate than ourselves, does not mean they should get inferior presents. They have feelings just like children of privileged homes,”  Audrey adds.
The Corries’ four children – Lisa, Russel, Craig and Damon – are unanimous in stating that they have learnt how to be generous to the less fortunate by watching their mother in action throughout their childhood.
They say their father, a former employee of Cable & Wireless, also taught them to be humanitarians and to be cognisant of how they could impact the world socially.
Damon, a herpetologist known to many Barbadians as the “snake man”, told the Sunday Sun he and all his siblings have passed on these traits to their own children.
It was Audrey’s example that influenced then eight-year-old Damon to wrap his used comic books in Christmas paper and distribute them among the children of Sargeant’s Village, Christ Church, when he would notice them during the festive season, browsing with longing eyes through comics books on display on the supermarket’s bookstore shelves.
Even at that age, he was able to discern those children could not afford to purchase the comics prices and wanted to share with them.
Giving appears to be in the Corrie genes and geneaology. They are descended from a Guyanese Arawak chief, their great grandmother being the last surviving child, and Damon asserts  the tradition of giving was handed down.
“God blessed me with good kids and they are all like that; they are all into giving” says a proud mother.
On Christmas morning, the Corries’ home will be teeming with family exchanging gifts and sharing the sumptuous breakfast prepared by  Audrey. It is a family tradition.
But as she shares the spirit of the season with her own family, there will also be the satisfaction that they have also by extension brought happiness to many others outside the family.
“Christmas would not be the same for me unless I knew that we were able to bring some joy to these children every year,” Audrey said, adding: “I love Christmas. It is my time of year, and I just thank God that I am able to do it for these children.”

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