THE Shannon St Vincent de Paul annual appeal is taking place at SkyCourt this Thursday and Friday, as the charity gears up for the busy Christmas period.
Speaking to The Clare Champion this week, Des McDonnell, treasurer of the local St Vincent de Paul conference said it’s an important fundraiser. “We have it every year around the same time. We’d be hoping to get donations in from factories, from management or from staff. Ninety per cent of our money comes in at Christmas and we have to budget for the year then.”
Obviously, the recession has greatly increased the demand for the type of support St Vincent de Paul offers.
Des said 2011 was the busiest year he had experienced but 2012 is set to top it. “We probably have only about the same amount of money to give out but we’ve had to spread it a little thinner. Customer-wise, we’re far busier than last year.”
He says there is a very good level of support from the local community and from local businesses. “We’d give out about 70 or 80 hampers, maybe up to 100 by the time Christmas Eve has finished. You’d get calls right up to Christmas Eve. It’s amazing what people will do and what the factories will do, there’s some factories that I’ll get a call to come and take a lot of food out of, that they’ve collected. Schools are the same, they have food days and we get that to distribute as well.”
That generosity is very much needed nowadays, he feels. “We’re really looking to the public to help us this weekend and over the Christmas. There is a real need out there. The people in Shannon always come up trumps, they are fantastic.”
People who never needed support before require it now, he added. “There’s a different type of client than what you would have had down through the years. These are people who would have been helping us years ago and now they need help. They would have mortgages instead of receiving supports for rent. It’s sad.”
In many cases, people are uncomfortable looking for the support. “It’s really tough for them to see us come into their house. You can see it in their faces, they’re embarrassed and you try to put them at ease.”