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Author Marian's €25k Christmas charity gift

BEST-selling author Marian Keyes has donated 25,000 from her upcoming book on depression to one of Ireland's leading poverty charities.

St Vincent de Paul (SVP) described the gift as an outstanding gesture at a time when it is pleading for funds to cope with a doubling in numbers seeking its help.

Mairead Bushnell, SVP national president, said she has never experienced such a scale of palpable worry and uncertainty among those struggling to survive. "For so many people it is now a question of constantly having to make choices," she said.

"And when it comes to Christmas and the winter months the decisions become even harder."

Around 10,000 SVP volunteers are expected to make 150,000 visits to homes between now and Christmas.

"In some cases it will just be a comforting shoulder to lean on or to advise on where to go for professional help with a specific problem.

"In many, many cases it will be to ensure that children have a toy from Santa or that the families have sufficient food, heat and light to get over the festive season," said Ms Bushnell.

Ms Keyes pledged the ¤25,000 to the charity from royalties of her next book Saved By Cake.

The book, which will be published next February, is an account of her recent battle with depression, and how baking has helped her.

"I'm donating the money now because our country is suffering such hardship and Christmas is the toughest time of year," said Ms Keyes.

"I'm acutely aware of the suffering being endured in every street and every community in Ireland, how people are struggling to get through in these horrible times and I'm so grateful that St Vincent de Paul are there.

"It's an honour and a privilege to support their work."

To donate to SVP, see www.svp.ie or call head office on 01-8386990.