Reaching Back Home: Jamaica Auto Shop Ships School Supplies To Jamaica

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Ryan Francis and Junior Walker

[Education]

Dozens of auto shops line the streets around Liberty Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, but one in particular stands out.

Handmade posters taped to two blue barrels read, “Sponsor a Student: The JMR Auto Center Youth Program is a program created last year to help collect supplies and sponsor students in Jamaica.”

Co-owners, Ryan Francis, 37, and Junior Walker, 33, met in high school and became friends. The men’s families had emigrated from Jamaica to Jamaica, Queens, U.S.A., when they were young. Francis and Walker studied auto mechanics in trade school on Long Island and worked at Pep Boys after graduation. They eventually opened up their own business, JMR Auto Center, in 2011.

“We’ve always wanted to do something for the kids back in Jamaica,” Francis said.

Francis said accessibility to stores with good quality, reasonably priced school supplies is a big challenge for families.

The two businessmen decided to swing into action. Last year they filled three barrels with supplies and shipped them to Jamaica -- notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, and backpacks.

This year their goal is to double that amount. Their families have also played a role in the fundraiser.

Ryan Francis’ daughters, Sade, 14, and Brianna, 11, made the posters. Brianna Francis was glad to help other kids. “It just makes a really big impact on them and helps them be successful in life,” she said.

Eight-year old Mykel Francis said his young friends were excited to chip in, and told him, “I’m from Jamaica, too, can I help?”

If you’d like to donate, call the shop at (718) 291-3190 or email jmrautocenter@yahoo.com 

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