COMEDIAN Brendan O'Carroll has donated hundreds of turkeys and hams to the Society of St Vincent de Paul to help improve the Christmas of Irish families in need.
The generosity of O'Carroll, the star of television phenomenon 'Mrs Brown's Boys', will help the SVP's army of volunteers ease the burden of families around the country that are suffering financial strain and unable to put food on the table for their children this Christmas.
The Irish Independent has partnered the SVP and is appealing to our readers to give the charity whatever help they can.
With food parcels and Christmas hampers high on the priority list this December, dozens of schools and companies in the capital will join the dedicated volunteers at the charity's Dublin warehouse to unpack boxes of food which have been donated in order to distribute them to 13 regional offices.
The charity suggests that food donations include non-perishable items like tinned fruit, tuna, beans and spaghetti, with other goods on the suggested list including chocolate, pasta, rice, sugar and marmalade. Each hamper has a personal touch.
"We don't pack the hampers here in the warehouse because we don't know what every family may need," Nuala Gallagher, communications and information manager of SVP said.
"Each conference (small group) likes to make up the hampers themselves, because they do the home visitations and are aware who has children, who may need a selection box, who has dietary restrictions, or who may prefer ethnic food."
Nuala joins up with St Theresa's Church on Dublin's Clarendon Street weeknights and the team of 10 volunteers look after the requests of 55 families in the immediate area.
"We packed a parcel for a lady who is a diabetic, so being able to do that is very important," she said.
Fuel poverty is another major issue affecting families, as it is the greatest single demand on many people's income after food. The charity spends up to €5m helping people keep the lights on and stay warm and countless hours intervening on behalf of people unable to pay energy bills.
Brendan Hennessy, a member of the SVP Social Justice team said: "Requests for fuel are enormous this year."
There are a number of ways to donate to SVP:
1. Go to www.svp.ie/donate.
2. Send a cheque to SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1, made payable to Society of St Vincent de Paul National Council.
3. Pay direct to Bank of Ireland, Phibsborough, Dublin 7, to St Vincent de Paul Council of Ireland, A/C Number 80005599. Sort code: 90-06-23.
4. Call the SVP National Helpline on 01 8386990.
5. Text SVP to 57500 (Terms and conditions apply).