Last year, he brought four suitcases full of clothes and shoes to give out.
With his regular December trips he is known to the islanders as “Christmas.”
“I brought down about 20 to 30 pairs of shoes for people who have never had a new pair,” said Liesenfeld. He blames his generosity on his mother, who was always giving to others.
Liesenfeld has a close connection to the Jamaican people. When he arrives, he doesn’t need a taxi, he just calls some of his friends. This network of people often greets him as he walks down the street, and many remind him that they are wearing the gifts he gave them the year before.
In his 2014 visit, he noticed Paul, a boy he and his family are sponsoring to attend school, riding a bicycle while many others waited to take turns. He got the idea that bicycles for kids and adults would be great gifts. Children would be able to have fun, exercise and get to school. Adults could more easily get to work and shop for the family. “I know people from all over the world who have come to Jamaica- who just want to give to the people,” said Liesenfeld.
The 100-bicycle giveaway idea stuck in his mind on a return trip, so he shared it with a stranger at a bar in Chicago. The businessman responded with disbelief and scoffed at JP’s giveaway plan. Offended by his doubt, JP took it as a challenge and responded with an even higher level of determination. His plans began at that moment. “I give a lot of credit to that businessman for pushing me to make it happen,” he said.
Gearing up for December 2015, JP named his nonprofit “One Love Brigade,” created a logo and is building a website, onelovebrigade.com. By the end of 2014, he had a sponsor, and several donated bikes. His next step is to rent a storage locker. JP envisions the bikes packed on a container ship to arrive in Jamaica in December when he does. He welcomes bike donations in any condition, and of all types and sizes. With the Jamaican people on his mind, JP has already enlisted friends to help with tune ups and repairs. “I cannot wait to see the joy in their faces when I hand them a bike.”