Five ways you can spread some vital Christmas cheer
Whisper it. There are only 37 days left to Christmas. Plenty of time to look forward to the joy and excitement, to plan presents for your loved ones, or big meals for when the relations call over with boxes of biscuits, maybe a bottle of good cheer. Like the song says: 'It's the most wonderful time of the year.'
But not for everyone. Rising tides haven't lifted all boats - and that's why the annual St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Christmas appeal is more essential than ever.
"Last year our volunteers visited 50,000 Irish families over winter and we expect to visit at least the same number this year. At the moment we are receiving over 1,000 calls a day to our offices around the country," said SVP's national president Kieran Stafford at the launch of the SVP annual appeal last week.
The SVP appeal is one of the cornerstones of an Irish Christmas - for many it represents a chance to show their generosity when it is most needed - and this year SVP has put children at the heart of its fund-raising drive.
Mr Stafford said this is because children are the most vulnerable and should not suffer because society has gotten things so wrong.
"Many families we visit will struggle to make ends meet this Christmas - some will borrow to meet the extra expenses they face at this time of year," he said. "We would urge anyone who is struggling with the cost of education, fuel or food to come to SVP for help."
The generous support of the public is so important for SVP - and there are five ways you can help too:
1. Give locally through bucket collections;
2. Go to www.svp.ie;
3. Donate by cheque to SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1, made payable to Society of St Vincent de Paul National Council or direct to a regional office, addresses can be found on www.svp.ie;
4. Pay direct to Bank of Ireland, Phibsborough, Dublin 7, to St Vincent De Paul Council of Ireland. Account number: 80005599. Sort Code: 90-06-23;
5. Or you can call the SVP National Office on 01 884 8200.