Saturday 16 December 2017

Christmas preparation starts early at St Vincent de Paul

The Irish Independent’s Jane O’Faherty does her bit at the SVP warehouse Picture: Frank McGrath
The Irish Independent’s Jane O’Faherty does her bit at the SVP warehouse Picture: Frank McGrath

Jane O'Faherty

Christmas has come early along Dublin's Sean McDermott Street.

Glamorous festive jumpers hang in the windows of Vincent's charity shop.

In spite of Baltic temperatures and icy winds, the customers and staff are warm and cheerful.

The Christmas spirit is even more powerful behind the shop's cash register. Hidden behind its store, St Vincent de Paul runs a two-storey warehouse that would surely put Santa's workshop to shame.

Teams of volunteers and staff are charged with preparing hampers for the worse off this Christmas.

Wanting to give something back, I decided to spend a day inside the warehouse to witness volunteering first-hand.

Warehouse manager Carl Gregan said getting through the mountain of donations was labour-intensive.

"On an average week, we could have 60 to 70 tonnes of donations come in, be sorted and sent back out again. It's intense," he said.

Two of the many volunteers who pitch in Picture: Frank McGrath
Two of the many volunteers who pitch in Picture: Frank McGrath

"The months of December and January boom. It could go up to nearly 100 tonnes a week, and that's without the Christmas warehouse. That's without the toys and food."

It wasn't long before we turned our attention to Christmas preparations, as truckloads of food and toys began to arrive.

St Vincent de Paul asked for non-perishable donations in bulk this year, and its supporters did not disappoint. Our manager, Joe, helped us wheel in nearly 10 full trolleys of food, ready to be packed into hampers.

Those hampers will be distributed far and wide to people in need in the run up to Christmas. With their help, thousands of families and individuals won't go hungry this year.

Head of SVP fundraising Nichola Mullen said it was heart-warming the numbers of people that help with SVP's Christmas effort.

"I feel much better about the world knowing that there are 11,000 volunteers. When you need it most, there are people that will help you," she said.

"Thousands of volunteers will go through this building every day. Especially this time of year, you'll have transition year students, you have companies coming in."

Irish Independent

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