'One little girl was sobbing and kissed every one of us' - Pop up shop offering Communion outfits for children whose parents are struggling financially with cost
Last year parents spent an average of €845 on their child's First Holy Communion and the cost puts a massive strain on families who are struggling financially.
One Dublin community is working together to ease the burden for cash-strapped parents with a pop up shop offering new and pristine second hand Communion outfits for boys and girls for no cost, or a small donation.
Theresa Kelly, from Raheny, came up with the idea after she overheard two young women chatting about the pressure of finding the finances to fund their children's big day.
"I overheard a conversation between two young girls saying they had Communions coming up and saying, 'Well I'll have to get a loan of €1000'," she explains. "I thought they were only kids themselves and I went home and it was playing on my mind."
Theresa approached several friends from the area about the possibility of setting up a shop and asking for donations and they all came on board to help.
"It snowballed and people started donating brand new dresses to us," she says.
"The Raheny Inn bought 23 brand new dresses. Dermot McHugh, who owns the local Centra, gave me the shop free of charge and told me to make it our own. Hat Society in Dundrum donated mothers' outfits from their boutique and they're coming over later with accessories. The girls in the Bus Stop Shop Kilmore dry cleaners dry cleaned every suit that came into us free of charge.
"The businesses have been amazing and the people in Edenmore have been overwhelmingly generous."
The shop has boys and girls' Communion outfits as well as outfits for other family members and was open on Friday, as well as today, and tomorrow until 6pm, although Theresa is hoping to get an extension for next week too to cater for demand.
"There is no charge for the clothes for people who need them or if you can afford a donation all donations will go to ICHH (Inner City Helping Homeless)," she says.
"We don't ask for money but the tin is on the counter. It's like a regular shop and the children have no idea it's any different. We send the children in to get changed and tell them Mammy will pay the bill. They get their outfit in a suit bag, same as any normal shop."
The response from the children has been "heartwarming", she says.
"There was a little girl in this morning and she was absolutely sobbing and she came and kissed every one of us," says Theresa. "And there was another couple and the husband couldn't get over it. He was in tears. It was just overwhelming to be honest with you. So far the kids have been skipping out of the shop full of the joys of spring."
Anyone interested in visiting the shop will find it in Edenmore Shopping Centre in Raheny, Dublin 5. For those who would rather a more private visit, Theresa is willing to meet them later in the evening until 8pm and see them privately. People can send her a PM on her Facebook page (above).
"Any outfits which are not taken from the shop will be donated to the women who make little dresses and outfits for babies born sleeping so everybody is a winner," she adds.