May 30, 2005 — Thousands of people flooded Main Street on Monday for "Shop be-Cause," a daylong celebration and shopping event designed to help raise money for the University of the Virgin Islands.
The carnival atmosphere–which included live music, mocko jumbies, local food, and arts and craft sales–brought locals and cruise ship passengers out to celebrate on what would normally have been a quiet Memorial Day.
Mondays event was specially scheduled to coincide with the arrival of Tom Joyner's "Fantastic Voyage" cruise, which arrived in Charlotte Amalie Harbor aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Adventure of the Seas.
The "Fantastic Voyage" is an annual cruise event to promote awareness and raise money for The Tom Joyner Foundation, which contributes to scholarship funds supporting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) by helping to provide scholarship aid to full-time students who need the money to finish their education. This years cruise is expected to raise more than $1 million for the foundation.
Joyner, a nationally syndicated radio personality, has been a staunch supporter of UVI and other black colleges throughout the United States. The "Tom Joyner Morning Show" is broadcast weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. on WWKS-FM, "KISS" 101.3.
Main Street retailers supported the event by offering merchandise at discounted prices and donating portions of the their sales to UVI. Supporters of the event included Cardow Jewelers, VI Rum, A.H. Riise, Diamonds International, Chalet D'Or, Royal Caribbean, The Crystal Shoppe, Little Switzerland, Topa Properties and many other Main Street retailers. Dynasty Dazzlers were also sponsors.
Joyner received a warm welcome to the event, saying, "Wow, what a homecoming … I feel like I am home." He then accepted a check from Cardow's Bill Christie written to the foundation to be used specifically for UVI.
Later Joyner presented a check from the foundation for $15,000 in scholarship aid to UVI. Designated an HBCU in 1986, UVI remains the only historically black college outside the contiguous United States.
Upon accepting the check from Joyner, UVI President Dr. Laverne Ragster said, "The Tom Joyner money is less restricted than other monies offered. These are full-time students who often work full time as well, and they really need the money. This is a great program to help get our students through school."
Ragster expects Mondays event to raise over $50,000, in addition to the $15,000 presented by Joyner and the gift from Cardow. "We need to understand that every life we build in this territory means that our society can move ahead. Higher education is the perfect vehicle for making a positive difference," Ragster said.
Steve Bornn of the V.I. Tourism Department added, "The exposure our territory receives from the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage cruise is worth millions of dollars. We are already working on an event venue for next year."
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and
state/country or island where you reside.