People of Dundalk open their hearts... and wallets
Kind-hearted Dundalk folk have once again shown tremendous support for a host of charitable events organised to help the less fortunate this Christmas.
From contributing to shoe boxes and hampers to busking, from taking part in sleep-outs to signing up for Christmas Day swims, the response has been amazing.
Community activist Eugene Garvey said he was overwhelmed at the generosity of the people of Dundalk and surrounding areas for his recent shoebox appeal to help the homeless.
Mr Garvey said: 'When we first send out the appeal I was hoping to get around 100 shoe boxes and felt that would have been a good result. Bearing in mind the very deserving charities that are all vying for funds at this time of year, not to mention the various shoe box appeals out there, I was overwhelmed to receive over 500 shoe boxes for the homeless.'
At the beginning of the appeal,he intended to give boxes to Newry Help the Homeless, Simon Community and Dundalk Soup Kitchen but due to the amazing response, he was able to include St Patrick's Soup Kitchen, SVP, Save our Homeless Dundalk and Women's Aid.
He thanked all those who supported his appeal, particularly the students of St Brigid's School in Ard Easmuinn, Ardee Community School, St Joseph's School in Crossmaglen and Naíonra agus Gaelscoil Dhún Dealgan, as well as Matthews Coaches who brought some of the boxes to Dublin.
The Annual Food Appeal by Dundalk Lions Club was also very generously supported, which will enable them to deliver around 200 hampers to those in need.
Expressing thanks to all those who supported the appeal, and the management of Dunnes Stores at The Marshes and Muirhevnamor, Lions Club President David Larkin said: 'We are very grateful to the volunteers, local schools and the members of Dundalk Lions who collected,sorted, and will distribute the food hampers. Our fundraising and events depend on the ongoing goodwill of all and allow us to continue serving the community.'
The Dundalk Simon community benefited from several fundraising events including the annual sleep-out, Dundalk School of Music's tenth anniversary concert which raised €1,950, the Tayto taste off at the Cattleboat Food Festival which raised €500, the coat collection organised by Dundalk Credit Union, as well as donations from various businesses and schools and by members of the public who supported their annual church gate collection and carol singing.
St Patrick's Soup Kitchen handed out over 322 food parcels on Friday morning, 'We had a very good response to our appeal, with people donating food and also cash,' said a spokesperson.
'I'm speechless at the genorosity of people,' said Sonya of Save Our Homeless Dundalk. 'It's unbelievable the support we have got.'
She said the group would be giving out 310 hampers including a full Christmas dinner, bag of potatoes and coal.
'We look after not just the homeless but those living in poverty and the elderly in Dundalk and surrounding areas,' she explained. They had received wonderful donations from members of the public, local businesses and workplaces, schools and clubs. Fund-raising nights were held in The Punters and The Bodhran in recent weeks.
The Dundalk Homeless Support Group also thanked everyone who got involved in their Christmas Appeal this year, saying the response had surpassed their expectations.
They had donated 139 hampers to those in need within the community as well as their regular service users, and are fully stocked to keep them going with their service to the homeless throughout the winter months.