A woman 'heartbroken' by messages of poverty is encouraging people to donate Communion clothes for children on their big day
A woman 'heartbroken' by messages of poverty and despair when she decided to give her daughter's Communion dress away, is now hoping to start a movement to give dresses and boy's suits away to little girls for their big day.
Deirdre Flood, (35), from Tallaght, Co Dublin, was overwhelmed with the sheer number of messages she received when she gave her daughter Lucy's Communion dress away earlier this month - to the extent that she is now asking others to follow - and give away their children's Communion clothes to help parents afford the event that has become increasingly expensive.
Ms Flood's message and photos of the dress she advertised on Facebook was shared 17,000 times by those spreading the word.
" I said to Lucy would she like to pass her dress onto a little girl whose family are struggling with money and she said 'yes' straight away," Ms Flood said.
"She said she wouldn't be wearing it again so we decided to give the accessories away too. I advertised the dress on Facebook and it absolutely exploded.
"I got so many heartbreaking messages. One was from a lady with bipolar, who has four children and her husband left her, Another was a mum-of-four who had been suffering domestic violence and had to move away. She is struggling financially."
A large number of the messages came from mothers who just couldn't afford to finance a Communion dress, while charity groups also got in touch asking for the dress to help those in need.
The full-time mother realised there was a huge demand from parents across the country, who just couldn't afford to dress their sons and daughters for their Communion.
"I wanted to be able to help them all so I put up another Facebook post asking if people would like to donate their children's Communion clothes to some of these struggling families," she said.
"I've collected a number so far and I've more dresses and boys' suits to collect. These will also be going to families in need.
"I am absolutely over the moon we are able to help these families because all we wanted was to make one little girl's day for her and take the pressure and stress away from her parents and now we are actually going to help other families too.
"People have been so generous with what they have donated so far and I am just hoping this continues."
Ms Flood said she simply couldn't ignore the host of messages she had received because they had "broke my heart."
The mother said that the whole campaign had been started by Lucy, who was kind enough to give her dress away. And she hoped other children could do the same by encouraging their parents to give the clothes they no longer needed away.
"Lucy's dress had been sitting in her wardrobe for two years and it would probably have sat there for many more years," Ms Flood said.
"This is the same for so many families. If there is a dress or a suit there that is not going to be used again, doesn't it make sense to give it away to a child in need?
"Lucy had the best Holy Communion day. She had a little party with family and friends and we want to help ensure that other girls and boys just like her have that same experience for their Communion."
Ms Flood's generosity went beyond giving the dress and accessories away though. She even offered to pay for a pair of shoes if her own daughter's did not fit the little girl in question.
A survey by Mummypages.ie found last year that more than half of Irish parents reported feeling the financial strain when it came to paying for their child's Communion. The average family spend for the event was €703
The survey also found that 46 per cent of parents give their child’s Holy Communion outfit to a younger sibling, 36 per cent keep it as a memento, 11 per cent sell it online and only 7 per cent of mums give Communion clothing to a charity shop.
Ms Flood said: "Communions can be so commercialised now and unfortunately for some it's a real struggle and such a stressful time and if everyone saw some of the messages I received it would break their hearts."
Ms Flood's original message on Facebook read: "Folks anyone out there know of anyone who has fallen on hard times and their daughter is making their Communion.
"Myself and Lucy want to give her Communion dress, bag, underskirt, veil, and shoes away to someone who is in need.
"If her shoes don't fit, we are going to buy shoes for the child's big day. I would love to see the dress go to someone who is really struggling."