For some families in desperate need, the fast-approaching festive season is something to dread rather than celebrate. Many households already have to choose between providing food or heat to family members and the added stress of ensuring there is ‘something to open on Christmas morning’ can become insurmountable.
GAA clubs in County Antrim have once again committed help, putting their best foot forward and collecting shoebox donations through their charity initiative #SaffronAid2. St Vincent de Paul (SVP), which works in families in need across every community of Northern Ireland, will distribute these to the most vulnerable in our society, helping to make sure that as many families as possible wake up to something special on 25 December.
Clubs across the county will collect donations through their #SaffronAid2 fundraising campaign which was the brainchild of Antrim GAA PRO, Sean Kelly and Co Antrim Gaels are being encouraged to back the shoebox appeal.
Sean Kelly explained: “GAA clubs and supporters are extremely big-hearted and we are delighted to do what we can to help those less fortunate that ourselves. This is the second year we have run this appeal. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of our members and supporters last Christmas and are anticipating that it will be even bigger this year.
“It can be hard to imagine Christmas as just another day trying to keep warm, eating enough or struggling to do the most basic of things but this can be the case for so many people, who don’t have the very basics we take for granted. It is wonderful to see so many Gaels with empathy for those in need.
“Clubs across the county will be getting involved by encouraging their members to donate a shoebox containing a few items for families in need or alternatively a gift for a child, and having their premises available as collection points for SVP.
“It’s very simple to make a shoebox donation. The next time you’re out and about, pick up a few extra items, place them in a shoebox, wrap the box and mark on it whether it is suitable for a man or woman. Suitable items for the shoebox could be things such as shower gel, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, gloves, hats, small towels, chocolate, hand cream, to name just a few. Or you can provide a new, unwrapped gift for child up to 16 years old – we are also keen to take more gifts for teenage boys this year. SVP will then collect all donations from your local GAA club.”
Brendan O’Neill, Regional President of SVP, added: “I would like to thank the GAA for running this appeal again this year and bringing it to the attention of their players and supporters. We know it is a busy and very expensive time of year but picking up just one extra toy or a few small items for this appeal could bring a smile to someone who might otherwise wake up with nothing on Christmas morning.
“Each year thousands of families approach SVP for support at Christmas time alone so this campaign really will make a huge difference to so many people in our communities and with your help, Christmas may become a little bit brighter for some families.”
The closing date for receipt of donations to all clubs is 25 November 2017. For further information contact Antrim GAA’s #SaffronAid2 campaign.
Pictured at the launch of Saffronaid2 are, from left (back): Sinéad Steele, Saffronaid co-ordinator; Declan Lynch, Lámh Dhearg; Sean Kelly, Antrim GAA PRO; Chris O’Connell, Loughgiel; Archie Kinney, SVP Regional Vice President; Pauline Brown, SVP Regional Manager and Brendan O’Neill, SVP Regional President.
From left (front): Marie Therese Fleming, Rossa; Niamh Donnelly, Ballycastle and senior footballer and hurler Phil Curran, Naomh Éanna GAC.