Sleeping on the streets is a reality many people have to face over the Christmas period. In an effort to raise funds for the Mid West Simon Community to help the homeless, Limerick Macra na Feirme has been hosting a 'Sleep Out for Simon' event in December for the last number of years.
Members from Limerick's Macra clubs, which include Kilmallock, Ballylanders, CMC, Shannonside, Crecora Manister Croom, Inse Ban Macra and University of Limerick, will take part in a 24-hour 'Sleep Out' outside AIB O'Connell Street in Limerick city from 9am, Saturday, December 14 to 9am the following morning.
Limerick Macra PRO Jim Heffernan says the 'Sleep Out' has been running since 2011 and that the club raises, on average, €10,000 or more each year for the Mid West Simon Community.
"The first year we did it, it was only 12 hours, but we increased it to 24 in 2012. The highest amount we ever raised was €15,000 in 2016 and we raised €12,000 last year, which was great," says Jim, who is from Newcastlewest in west Limerick.
While Jim says he may only get an hour or two of sleep during the fundraiser, he says it's always good fun.
"We always really enjoy doing it. It's very important to raise awareness of the issue. There's always good camaraderie and we meet great characters.
"A lot of the donations we get come from people coming out of pubs and clubs between 11pm and 2am in the morning who are feeling generous. I remember we got a €500 donation from one person on the spot last year. We are very grateful for all donations big or small."
This year, the fundraiser has an online donation platform where the general public can make donations.
"We really appreciate all donations people can give. Come rain, hail, snow or shine, we'll be there on the 14th," adds Jim.
This isn't the first festive fundraising event the Limerick region has hosted this month. On Saturday, Kilmallock Macra hosted a Christmas jumper fundraising night in aid of Limerick Suicide Watch.
For more information on the Mid West Sleep Out for Simon and other Limerick Macra events, visit the Limerick Macra Facebook Page. To donate to the 'Sleep Out', visit the Macra Limerick page on idonate.ie.