We're still hitting the high notes for those less fortunate
THE spirit of Christmas is alive this year as people dig deep into their pockets for charity despite the recession.
The Catholic aid agency Trocaire said it was delighted with the Irish response to its Christmas Global Gifts campaign, which has raised close to €2m for developing countries since the fundraising drive began in early November.
Even though the amount of money donated has fallen slightly over last year, the number of gifts being bought is up 7pc over last year.
Trocaire director Justin Kilcullen said: "It is a remarkable show of Irish people's generosity that more Trocaire Christmas gifts have been sold this year than last year.
"This is at a time when so many are unemployed or worried about the economy."
But he said he's not surprised by the outpouring of generosity despite our hard economic times.
"Despite our own troubles at home, we continue to be a globally aware country," he said.
Staff at Heatons department stores were also celebrating yesterday after their fundraising efforts raised €50,000 for Chernobyl Children International.
The money will be used to support a foster family in Belarus as part of its 'Heatons Home of Hope' campaign.
Meanwhile, a homeless charity will also be able to provide more than 20,000 hot meals to the needy thanks to a record number of donations made to Christmas FM.
The volunteer-run "pop-up" radio station, which broadcasts nationwide only during the Christmas season, received €45,147 in donations to its designated charity, Focus Ireland, in just 12 hours during its annual fundraising day on Wednesday.
The funds will allow Focus to provide some 22,573 hot meals.
Meanwhile, an army of secondary students from Cork city was preparing for its final day of fundraising today after fasting and braving the elements for the past 10 days.
A total of 1,800 fifth-year students from 19 Cork-area schools have taken turns fasting for 12 hours and seeking donations from the public on behalf of the Students Harness Aid for the Relief of the Elderly (SHARE) campaign.
And 'Once' star Glen Hansard tweeted last night that he intends busking with some friends today on Grafton Street and urged people to "come along and throw a coin in the box for Simon Community and the Peter McVerry Trust".
He said: "It's not our place to judge why people are homeless. . . It's our place to help shelter the cold and hungry. . . The rest is up to them."