TACOMA, Washington — Xander Bogaerts, an all-star shortstop for the Boston Red Sox and former native of Aruba, teamed up with CEDE Aruba in April 2020 to launch the Happy to Give Back relief initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This campaign proves vital as COVID-19 has brought to a standstill Aruba’s “main economic pillar” — tourism.
Bogaerts Gives Back
All of the support Bogaerts provides will fund local food banks and warm meals for Aruba’s vulnerable groups: the elderly, children and thousands of Arubans who have lost their jobs and livelihoods. At the start of the pandemic, international experts predicted that COVID-19 would impact Aruba most severely in comparison to other countries across the world, expecting 25% of Arubans to lose their jobs due to the pandemic. With 1.2 million annual tourists and vacationers unable to visit the island due to pandemic restrictions, COVID-19 shattered Aruba’s tourism-dependant economy.
Aruban baseball star Bogaerts noted this devastation and knew he could help using his platform as a leader on the island to raise money for his fellow Arubans. Bogaerts is without a doubt a superstar, known as one of the most skilled and highest-paid shortstops in Major League Baseball. Bogaerts’s character has not changed despite achieving international fame and becoming a multi-millionaire. According to Aruba Today, Bogaerts remains “down to earth” despite his rise to fame. Moreover, Bogaerts does whatever he can to give back to the youth in Aruba, most notably funding the construction of a state-of-the-art baseball field in his hometown of San Nicolas.
CEDE Aruba and the Happy to Give Back Initiative
CEDE Aruba is a community-based foundation supporting nonprofits throughout the island of Aruba since 1986. The foundation makes it easier for nonprofits on the island to acquire grants through both the international and Aruban communities. CEDE Aruba’s focus “areas include neighborhood development, volunteer work, family support, enrichment programs for children and youngsters, active aging, protections of vulnerable groups and capacity building of nonprofits.” CEDE Aruba ensures that 100% of its charitable donations are utilized by local Aruban nonprofits whose values align with the Happy to Give Back initiative.
The Happy to Give Back initiative has raised $579,193 since its beginnings, with all of the funds going to food aid programs on the island. CEDE Aruba collaborated with three Aruban nonprofits to make the initiative come to life: Fundacion Pa Nos Comunidad (FPNC), which is “Aruba’s official food bank,” the YMCA Aruba youth organization and Ban Uni Man Pa Cria Nos Muchanan, an Aruban school breakfast program.
FPNC provided “2,190 families with a food package for a month” and YMCA Aruba provided 24,458 meals for the elderly and most vulnerable. YMCA’s meals-on-wheels initiative helps to deliver 200 meals each day. Ban Uni Man Pa Cria Nos Muchanan has provided 19,569 breakfasts for Aruban school children. CEDE Aruba thanks Bogaerts for his generous support of the initiative and urges others to donate so the Aruban people can get by until international visitors return to kickstart the tourism industry once again.
– Curtis McGonigle