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From family reunions to destination weddings, parties of all sizes can leave a positive impact when they travel to Marriott Caribbean & Latin America Resorts.
Launched in April 2016, the “Carry-On Charity” program provides guests with the opportunity to serve local communities in the destinations they visit. The wide spectrum of participating charities mirrors the primary needs of each city, from hospitals and orphanages in Cabo San Lucas to services for homeless and disabled people in Aruba.
Amanda Gill, account manager of brand marketing and visuals for Marriott International, has worked closely with the program since its founding. She notes that guests are increasingly interested in giving back while traveling, and that through the program, they can connect authentically with locals through their donations or by visiting charities in person.
“These are the memories you truly take away with you — when you realize you’re not just on vacation, but that you got to make an impact on somebody’s life,” Gill said of her numerous charity visits.
In addition to customizing charities for each resort destination, the program also rotates charities depending on need throughout the year, according to Gill. For example, during back-to-school season, guests at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands focused on packing backpacks for foster children, and then during the holidays shifted to donating gifts to orphanages.
Depending on the size of their group, guests have several ways of participating. Smaller groups can pack donations in their individual suitcases or have donations sent by travel agents on their behalf in a personalized duffel bag. In-person deliveries are often arranged for larger groups, though the same is possible for smaller groups upon request.
According to Gill, groups have spanned from 30 to 300 people. A recent trip took 120 guests to food bank Fundacion Pa Nos Comunidad in Aruba, where they could source and pack items. Gill accompanied a smaller group of guests from JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa who ventured to local children’s orphanage Casa Hogar with crates full of clothing, hygiene items, bedding and school supplies.
“The smiles you see on the children’s faces are priceless,” Gill said. “They continue to carry on with you every day.”