Football stars pitch in to help needy with Christmas hampers
Dublin GAA stars lent a hand packing 3,000 hampers for the homeless at the Capuchin Day Centre yesterday.
Some of the county's biggest footballers showed up to join volunteers in putting parcels of food together which will be given out in the centre in Bow Street, Dublin 7, from early this morning.
"We didn't ask them, they offered - which is great," Brother Kevin Crowley said.
"Rory O'Carroll [from the Dublin GAA team] is a regular volunteer with us anyway, and it was arranged for them all to come down.
"The hampers have commodities like sugar, bread, brack and chicken."
Br Crowley expressed his gratitude for the public's generosity in the centre's Christmas collection, during which €44,000 was raised.
"What I want to emphasise is the generosity, kindness and support - without which it would be impossible for us to keep going. Running costs for the year are about €3.3m.
"We have never been short of money, and we have never been short of food.
"The main thing is that we don't want to see anyone hungry at Christmas, and it is important that everyone who comes in here is treated with dignity and respect, as well as love and kindness."
Br Crowley has noticed an increase in families with small children coming to them for help this year.
"Quite a number of families are coming to us and my main concern is next year.
"I hope and I pray that, by then, those families will be in a home and Santa Claus will come to the house, rather than a hotel," he said.
Meanwhile, Catholic lay group The Knights of Columbanus said demand for its annual Christmas Day dinner at the RDS and takeaway meals has surged.
Volunteers will serve 500 festive sit-down dinners on Christmas Day, on top of a further 2,800 takeaway meals - up from 400 sit-down dinners and 2,100 takeaway meals last year.
Adrian King, chairman of the Christmas Day Dinner Committee, said: "There's great cooperation from charities like Focus Ireland, Alone and St Vincent de Paul to make this happen, and we're putting on three shuttle buses from the city centre to take people to the dinner.
"There seem to be more struggling families in need out there and we want to send them the message that everyone is welcome," he added.