Charity eases the Christmas anguish for poorest families
A family of six who will spend Christmas morning huddled together in the one bed is just one of the heart-tugging cases St Vincent de Paul (SVP) deals with during the holidays.
Although the impoverished parents live in deplorable conditions in north Dublin, they may take some comfort knowing their four children will get Christmas presents and food this year.
Pat Spain, who is the project manager at SVP's warehouse on Sean McDermott Street, said the charity's annual toy and food appeal was a massive undertaking.
The warehouse catering for the SVP's east region (Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow) accepts hundreds of toys and food packages each day.
"It's absolutely hectic at this time of the year," he said.
"There are toys and food coming in constantly and going out simultaneously.
"The volunteers are really fantastic - they help to unload the food into hamper bags, categorising the toys and then shipping them off. It's a huge undertaking and I can't praise them enough."
This year, the charity expects to get more than 40,000 donated toys from its "giving tree" appeal.
Mr Spain added that some of the families SVP assisted lived in "appalling conditions". "Last week, I visited a family with four children who were living and sleeping in one room on the Cabra Road," he said. "Their kitchen was in the hallway and there was just one bed for them to sleep in. It's very heart-breaking, but we do our best to support families such as these."
The SVP rep agreed that people had become less trusting of charities in recent years, due to a number of scandals with other charitable bodies.
"Each new scandal affects us more and more," he said. "As a result, we have to be more stringent with everything. However, SVP has a terrific name and you would be surprised how much Christmas loosens people's hearts and pockets."