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Unwanted pressies flood in to ease plight of homeless

GENEROUS Dubliners have been donating loads of unwanted Christmas gifts to help the homeless.

Practical presents such as winter jackets, tea and biscuits were plentiful, as were books, DVDs and children's cuddly toys as people flocked to St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin city centre.

Other items ranged from the unusual, such as fitness equipment and a garden hose, to the luxurious, with beauty products from Molton Brown, L'Occitane en Provence and Elizabeth Arden.

For the sixth year in a row, staff at the Pro Cathedral are accepting the gifts. The deadline for donations was tomorrow but it has been extended to this Sunday because of the bad weather during the festive season which may have prevented people from travelling.

The items will be collected by Dublin archdiocese's social service agency Crosscare, which will look after their distribution, and sell in its shop any surplus to raise money for homeless shelters and services around the capital.

Doreen Boss, from Beaumont, left a box of biscuits and a towel set by the crib at Pro Cathedral after Mass.

"I only heard about the appeal on the telly the other day and I thought that I had a couple of things that I could bring in," she told the Herald.

"We get too much at Christmas, so it was nice to pass these on, seeing as I'm on my own now. I don't need it." Monica Redmond (79) from Artane has been giving away her unwanted gifts for the last three years.

"I come here every day, so I brought something along, I don't want or need all these gifts," she said. "I would usually bring biscuits, but this year I brought a tea pot, a little vase and a little toaster."

Fr Pat O'Donoghue, of the Pro Cathedral, said the idea to set up this unwanted gifts appeal had arisen from two different observations.

"I thought about Epiphany Day [January 6] and what happened then -- the visit of the wise men and their gifts," he said.


"In other European cultures it's much more celebrated, and in Spain, I believe that it's even bigger than Christmas.

"The other thing is a lot of people get more than what they need at Christmas, they may even get duplicates so it was a way to recycle," he added.

The appeal has been very successful since it began in 2006, Fr Donoghue said.

"This year, it was a slow start because of the weather and because several other places are doing it locally now as well -- we're very happy about that, it's good that it's spreading."