In addition to seeking financial donations this year the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) Annual Appeal has turned to seeking vouchers for food, gifts and toys instead of the real things.
SVP has collected food and toys for families in need in local communities throughout Ireland for generations. However, due to Covid-19 the safe collection and distribution of toys and food is challenging for SVP volunteers.
Instead the charity has launched a number of innovative initiatives to encourage donations from the public so they can still meet the needs of families nationwide.
The first is the SVP Virtual Gifts (svp.ie/virtualgifts) appeal. In keeping with the traditional SVP Giving Tree, donors can choose a bauble representing whom they would like to buy a gift. Donors can also choose what region they would like their donation used in. SVP has partnered with Me2You to provide the gift cards. All donated gift cards will be distributed through local SVP offices and used to help families in need purchase those gifts all children deserve, such as a first bike, a new pair of pyjamas or a boardgame for the whole family.
“While so many things will be different for us all this Christmas, presents under the tree need to stay the same,” said Rose McGowan, SVP National President. “Due to covid-19 safety concerns, physical visits to people’s homes are not happening this Christmas. This means that the ability of the Society to deliver food hampers or toys is limited. So, in addition to financial donations, SVP is appealing for vouchers which can be exchanged for food and gifts of all kinds: toys, books, music, clothing etc.”
For those who like to donate food each Christmas, SVP has also launched a new Virtual Food Appeal at svp.ie/virtualfoodappeal. Donors are invited to buy a virtual hamper on- line. All of these donations will be ringfenced specifically to help families with food requests. Every year, SVP provides help with food to thousands of families throughout the winter. And this winter, more than ever, it wants to make sure every family has what they need.
However, some donors still like to interact on a local basis and have something tangible to show for their donation. This led SVP to create the Empty Plate Appeal and the Empty Toy Box Appeal.
The Empty Plate Appeal is in partnership with EUROSPAR. It is based on the belief that no child should have an empty plate at Christmas. Shoppers are invited to donate non-perishable food items at local EUROSPAR stores. EUROSPAR will then calculate the value of food donated and provide SVP volunteers with the equivalent value in EUROSPAR vouchers. These vouchers will be used in the location in which they were donated to help ensure families in that community do not go hungry at Christmas and beyond.
The SVP Empty Toy Box Appeal is sponsored by Smurfit Kappa. People are invited to visit their local SVP Vincent’s shop, and buy an empty toy box for €5. All donations will be used in the community they are bought to help ensure that children and families have what they need this winter.
Also supporting the SVP Annual Appeal are Brown Thomas and Arnotts with a range of activities. Arnotts have partnered with SVP to bring their Christmas windows to homes around the country with a series of limited edition illustrated postcards depicting each window scene. The postcards (€6) are available in a set of six to purchase on Arnotts.ie – with all proceeds going to SVP.
Arnotts and Brown Thomas will be launching ‘Tap to Donate’ contactless enabled donation boxes throughout all stores. Arnotts will have an interactive Christmas ‘Selfie Tree’, a contactless enabled donation box which has been installed with a very special feature in aid of SVP, this year’s chosen charity. In the run up to Christmas, contactless card holders will be able to support the charity by simply tapping their card on the contactless device to make a secure donation. Customers will be able to make donations of €5 and the Christmas tree will light up after a donation is made, providing the perfect moment for a festive selfie to share on social media. Brown Thomas and Arnotts will also be selling facemasks in aid of SVP.
Ways to donate
Donate by phone
0818 176 176 (ROI) or 028 9075 0161 (NI) and nominate your local area
Donate by post
Please send cheques to SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1, cheques made payable to ‘Society of St. Vincent de Paul’ or direct to a regional office
Keep an eye out for special blue envelopes that will be in newspapers, churches and delivered to homes throughout the country.