Charity's army of volunteers make sure no child misses out
EVERY child deserves to experience the magic of Christmas.
RTE's 2FM team is helping the St Vincent de Paul get one step closer to ensuring every struggling family in Ireland gets a toy from Santa Claus.
The radio station's annual Toy Appeal campaign has collected over 65,000 toys, all generously donated to the SVP to be sent around the country to families in need of help.
Just over a fortnight from December 25, thousands of daily requests are being rapidly disbursed to one of the charity's 13 regional offices.
Pleas for assistance are being allocated to local conference groups nationwide, which will ensure that no child misses out on a gift from the North Pole.
The Irish Independent has partnered with the SVP and is appealing to our readers to give the charity whatever help they can this Christmas.
Brian Naughton is the co-ordinator of the Christmas Project for the charity and has been stationed at the SVP's main warehouse in Dublin since October, taking in donated toys and sorting them into age and gender.
"In November, each conference puts together a list of what toys it needs for their families, so we make sure that anything that comes in here on that list goes straight out to them," he says.
"The demand is definitely higher this year, so it's important that people still think about giving a toy if they can. There will always be a home for it."
While toys are being donated in high numbers, girls aged eight or under tend to dominate the offering. Deborah Costello, of SVP's fundraising department, is encouraging families to branch out this year.
"Older children that are eight and over, teenagers, and particularly boys, can often be forgotten about. Vouchers are great in this regard," she said.
"I like to try to get something for the older teenagers or even the mothers if I can, as 90pc of the households we deal with are single parent households," adds Noel Boyce, treasurer of St Bernadette's conference, in Crumlin.
Up to 100 employees from companies including Accenture, Arthur Cox and Yahoo, will take on shifts sorting through the boxes of donated toys.
Several schools will also pitch in. Transition-year student Orlaith O'Reilly (15) from Scoil Caitriona in Glasnevin has been stationed at the warehouse.
"I was shocked by how quickly the warehouse empties out every day and fills up again with more toys the next morning, there is so much demand around the country," she said.
"It's lovely to be able to contribute in some way and make sure that a little girl gets her dream doll."
And those unable to get to the warehouse have contributed in other ways -- there has been a 100pc increase in online giving of toys and gifts to the SVP Virtual Gift store.