With the pandemic crippling many families' finances, the burden of back-to-school costs feels heavier than ever. This is how your kindness is silently lifting a weight off the weary shoulders of parents like Margaret and helping little ones back to school…
"The worst part of my financial year isn't Christmas... it's back to school," says Margaret, a nurse and lone parent of her girls — Grace and Molly.
If you're a parent or grandparent yourself, you'll know all about the daunting upfront costs of getting even a single child ready for the new school year — uniforms, textbooks, pens and pencils, school shoes, runners — the list goes on and on.
For Margaret, the back-to-school struggle began when her marriage ended. She and her girls moved out of their home, and she couldn't keep up with the bills. That's when she called SVP…
"When it all falls apart, and you’ve got to pick up the phone and make that call, you feel ashamed," says Margaret, with sorrow in her voice. "It's hard to ask for help." But by the grace of your goodwill, when someone like Margaret dials SVP's number, a caring voice of hope answers...
By helping Margaret with basics like food and fuel, your support meant that she could set aside enough each week to cover her girls' back to school costs.
"I didn't know how I was going to cope," says Margaret. "For Saint Vincent de Paul to help me out at that time... it was phenomenal."
Thanks to you, Molly and Grace each went back to school with a backpack full of books, new uniforms, and a pair of good shoes.
In a year where many parents have lost jobs or faced a huge drop in household income, back to school costs are causing more worry than ever. SVP has heard from parents who have been skipping meals for months, squirrelling away every cent they can to cover the costs.
"I'm helping a working mother at her wit's end," says Ann, an SVP volunteer. "The school want €670 for a tablet for her eldest. Then she has three of them to kit out with books and uniforms. Families who were in poverty before the pandemic are worse off now... And then parents have to find these huge back-to-school costs... It's a nightmare."
Ann says she is forever grateful for your generosity that helps take the pressure off families like this one. "It's lovely that people really care about these struggling families," says Ann. "There's a lot of love out there."
In a year that knocked so many families to their knees, you are a Godsend to struggling parents. Your generosity is helping school children across Ireland back to school.