SVP charity inundated with calls for help

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A LOCAL area vice-president for St Vincent de Paul (SVP) said the charity has been “inundated” with calls for help in the run-up to Christmas, and she is appealing to people to donate gifts to the charity for children aged eight and up.

The charity is off to an extremely busy start this Christmas, as their food bank in Cherry Orchard, which was set up to cater for 100 people, saw 198 people come to get food on Friday – with queues stretching along the street in front of the Cherry Orchard Community Centre.

Marie Cronin compressor

Marie Cronin, SVP vice-president at the food bank in Cherry Orchard

Marie Cronin, SVP vice-president for the Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and Clondalkin conference of the charity, told The Echo: “We weren’t expecting so many people, at one point we ran out of food.

“The food bank wasn’t open until 10.30, but by 9 o’clock there was already a queue down the street, before the centre had even opened.

“No one is going to queue for this stuff for that length of time unless they really need it. And so many of them turned up early because they knew there’d be a shortage of food.

“It was horrendous. It beggars belief that this is happening in 2019.”

Alongside concerns about being able to put food on the table, some of the parents are also struggling to afford gifts for their children, and while the charity has a lot of donations for younger children, there’s a dearth of gifts for older children.

“The public are great, we get a lot of donations,” explained Ms Cronin. “But a lot of the time people are only buying toys for their younger kids, who are around three or four, but not for the older children, who are around eight or nine.

“Even donations of gift vouchers for places like Penneys and Liffey Valley would be handy. Painting sets would also be good, because at that age they’re usually into art.”

If people want to donate to SVP, they can get in touch with their local parish priest to find out about donating gifts for people in their local area for Christmas.

Overall, however, Ms Cronin said that demand for their services this Christmas is up compared to last year, and that this is being felt around the community.

“I’m very sad about [the amount of people that need SVP’s help]. Even some local guards have been saying to me that there’s more homeless people out there that need help compared to last year,” she said.

“We’ve also donated vouchers to local homeless groups who feed the homeless in town.”

A shop that specialises in equipment and clothing for the outdoors donated hundreds of hats and socks that are reinforced and extra warm as they’re made for hiking and spending extended periods of time outdoors – these were given out at one of the soup kitchens in town recently.

According to Ms Cronin, within half an hour all of the items were gone.

“I don’t care what the government says – nobody’s going to a soup kitchen in town unless they really need the food,” she added.

SVP is now looking ahead and focusing on continuing to assist families that need their help over the festive period.

People seeking assistance or who wish to volunteer for the charity can call SVP’s Dublin office on 01 855 0022 and they can direct you to your local office, while parish offices can also direct people to their local conference of SVP.

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