The annual Translink Stuff a Bus Christmas appeal, in aid of The Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul, is hoping to raise much needed funds to help children and families who are facing an empty Christmas.
Now in its sixth year, the ‘Stuff a Bus’ campaign sees Translink, U105 and Belfast Live come together with the support of the public to put the magic back into Christmas for thousands of children and households across Northern Ireland.
The appeal comes at a time of ever-increasing need. With more families facing severe financial difficulties, many of whom have never needed support before and are now finding themselves in need.
Launching this year’s campaign, Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive said: “Many households regularly face a challenging Christmas. However, the additional cost-of-living crisis is forcing even more families into poverty.
“Last year the generosity and support of our passengers, staff and the general public, enabled us to raise over £100,000, which helped to support almost 40,000 children here in Northern Ireland. We’re asking once again for online donations which St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army will use to purchase children’s toys as well as vouchers for food and heating - helping families where they need it the most.
“We know money is tight for everyone this year, but even giving a little can make a huge difference to those who are choosing between heating, eating or a stocking filler for their children this December. As well as our JustGiving page, you can scan QR codes on board our services throughout December. We’ll also host entertainment in our stations to add some Christmas spirit whilst we fundraise. With the support of people across Northern Ireland, we can help support families who really need our help this winter and make sure that everyone experiences a touch of magic this Christmas.”
Colonel Neil Webb, the Salvation Army’s divisional leader, said: “No child should experience an empty Christmas. These are unprecedented times financially and we’ve had people of all ages and backgrounds come to us for food, shelter and even clothes.
“We work with families to bring a bit of hope and joy at Christmas and beyond. Your money can help provide gifts, food and vouchers to those who really need it and even a small donation will make such a huge difference.
“This very special campaign has always relied on the generosity of and support from the people of Northern Ireland. Thank you for helping us keep the magic of Christmas alive.”
Mary Waide, Regional President North Region of St Vincent de Paul, said: "This year’s Stuff a Bus campaign is more important than ever. The cost-of-living crisis is forcing families across Northern Ireland to make impossible choices between whether to feed their families or heat their homes.
“This can add stress to those already feeling under pressure as Christmas approaches but by you donating to Stuff a Bus Christmas Appeal, St Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army can give the gift of choice and provide families with a sense of empowerment in choosing gifts for their loved ones.
“One in five adults and one in four children are living in poverty in Northern Ireland and at St Vincent de Paul, we’re currently handling in excess of 300 requests a day from people needing help and support before winter has even started to bite.
“By donating to the Stuff a Bus Christmas appeal, you are ultimately helping us enable families across Northern Ireland to experience a magical Christmas.”
You can donate now at: www.stuffabusni.com and follow the conversation online using #StuffABusNI or keep up to date with fundraising efforts and announcements on U105 Radio and Belfast Live.