It’s going to be a difficult Christmas for many people this year, and the need to look after those less fortunate than ourselves has never been greater.
Just ask Rachel Harper, Principal of St Patrick’s School and a regular shining light at The Light House in Dublin.
The latter Pearse Street centre is open six days a week, feeding the homeless and hungry community of the city and beyond, and their daily visitor numbers have jumped in recent months from an average of 60 a day to 300.
That’s the kind of year 2020 has been.
Which means that this year’s Light House Christmas dinner is going to be something of a challenge, especially given that much of centre’s traditional fundraising drives have been curtailed by Covid. A weekly volunteer and a board member, Rachel has recognised the need to think outside the annual Christmas Shoebox Appeal for The Light House this year.
“We’ve got a challenge on our hands, for sure,” says Ms Harper, “but the response in Greystones and the surrounding villages each year has always been incredible. So, it may be a little different for 2020, but I know we can still make this a very special Christmas for all 300 of our diners…”
And the woman was not wrong. The call went out around de town – if you’ve got something that’s either a treat (such as chocolates, sweets, books, etc) or practical (socks, soaps, woolly hats, etc), you could pop them into one of three donation boxes, situated in Greystones at St Patrick’s National School Monday to Friday and St Patrick’s Churchdaily, or over at Newcastle’s Parish Centre.
There was also a shout-out for new or new-ish rucksacks, backpacks or string bags, the hope being to give each of the 300 visitors to The Light House their own bag to carry their necessities and goodies away in. And, eh, Greystonians answered the call. Over 5,000 chocolate treats, 4,000 wet wipes, toys, DVDs, clothes and, hey, 468km of toothpaste.
“The response has been truly overwhelming,” says Rachel. “We have the 300 backpacks, but we’ve also been swamped with incredible Christmas gifts to pass on, pretty much all of them new. This is going to make Christmas 2020 a very happy one for so many people…”
And on the big day itself, with a little help already from local chefs Paul Quinn and his wife, Jade, along with Stephen Evans, if there’s anyone out there who knows their way around a kitchen and who can contribute in any way, Rachel would love to hear from you on email@example.com. Today.
Back in November, we caught up with Rachel down at St Patrick’s National School on an almost-bright and definitely breezy Monday afternoon to find out more…
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