SVP issue Christmas appeal to Dundalk people
The annual appeal by the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Dundalk takes place over the coming weekend.
As Area President of the Society in Dundalk, I would appeal to fellow townspeople to be as generous as they can in supporting the Society this year.
Over the course of the year the members of the Society, all volunteers, and numbering over 100, undertake a variety of projects to help as many people as we can.
The nine Conferences, covering an area stretching from Kilkerley to the Cooley peninsula, and including all of Dundalk, visit upwards of 80 families a week seeking our help.
Unfortunately, today in the Dundalk area, despite the improving economy, for too many people, it can still take one small problem to tip someone into crisis and poverty. It can be a sudden illness or an unexpected bill.
The volunteers who visit these families in their home and offer emotional support, advise and financial assistance, know that a little help at the right time can stop the domino effect leading to a family experiencing prolonged hardship.
Every day, people in our community, have to ask for help from the Society to make ends meet. They do so by calling our helpline, or by letter. During 2017, the Society in Dundalk spent €360,000 on helping people. All of that money was contributed locally and spent locally.
We expect to spend the same amount in 2018, but we cannot help families throughout the year without the contributions that we receive through our monthly church gate collections, our annual appeal, donations from individuals and firms, and from the sale of clothes and furniture donated to our three shops in Dundalk.
Because of the generosity of the people of Dundalk we are able to do much more than giving direct assistance to the families we visit.
We are able to help our all the second level schools in Dundalk, and a number of primary schools with the demands they face in discreetly helping pupils who they identify as vulnerable for we are conscious of the fact that education is the vehicle by which many can lift themselves out of poverty.
For that reason, we also directly help third level students who might otherwise not get the opportunity to attend college.
The elderly too are always at the centre of our thoughts and apart from help with heating costs and bills, we support an annual holiday for upwards of 60 in our holiday home in Mornington, as well as direct financial support to the art project in St.Oliver Plunkett Community Unit which has made such a difference to the lives of so many.
Christmas is always a difficult time for families and last Christmas we distributed upwards of 900 parcels to families in the area, and this year that massive task will be undertaken again with voluntary organisations in the town, the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Old and Underprivileged coming together under the auspices of Dundalk Social Services to make a difference for families.
All of these groups will be pooling the food so generously donated by firms, schools, churches and individuals and for which we are all very grateful.
None of the work we do would be possible without the support of townspeople and it astonishes me and makes me extremely humble, when I see how generous people can be.
For those of us involved in voluntary work, we take our motivation from the generosity that the people of Dundalk have always shown to others less fortunate than themselves.
May I, on behalf of St. Vincent de Paul, wish all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.