For so many families in Northern Ireland, the countdown to Christmas can be the most worrying time of the year instead of the most wonderful and that’s why St Vincent de Paul (SVP) is grateful to Antrim GAA for supporting the family appeal again this year with its #SaffronAid initiative.
Already, calls for help are ahead of last year and Antrim GAA’s commitment to making Christmas special for parents and vulnerable children who may otherwise wake up without a gift on Christmas Day is invaluable.
This year Clubs across the county have been set an ambitious five star target by the brainchild of the shoebox appeal, Antrim GAA PRO Sean Kelly. He wants donations to hit an all time record with the aim of bringing the total number of shoeboxes donated to 5,000 since the initiative began three years ago.
Sean Kelly said: “The success of the #SaffronAid shoebox appeal over the last three years has proven how supportive and extremely big-hearted GAA clubs are and we are delighted to continue to do what we can to help those less fortunate than ourselves with SVP. In the last three years we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of our members and supporters and, in this fourth year, I’m hopeful that we can smash the record and hit a record 5,000 overall donations.
“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 can get 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.”
Pauline Brown, Regional Manager, SVP Northern Ireland, said: “We are indebted to the continued support from the GAA Clubs and supporters in Co Antrim in helping brighten the festive season with their shoebox donations. The gesture of picking up an extra gift for our Christmas Appeal can make a huge difference to the lives of those for whom Christmas can be a distressing instead of joyful time. We are excited to see Clubs accept the challenge with the generous number of shoeboxes donated this year.”
The closing date for receipt of donations to all clubs is Friday 6th December. For further information on Antrim GAA’s #SaffronAid4 campaign, please vis it antrim.gaa.ie.
SVP will distribute the donated shoeboxes to families in need across every community in Northern Ireland before 25 December.