PICS: SVP helping hundreds of families across Cork

PICS: SVP helping hundreds of families across Cork
Staff members Greg Murray, Eamonn MacAmlaoibh, Annette Butler and Niall Hendrick, on duty at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.

CHRISTMAS is a busy time of year for St Vincent de Paul (SVP) as staff and volunteers pack food hampers and organise presents for families in need.

SVP has two warehouses in the Cork City area, one for food distribution which operates all year and another for Christmas toys and gifts.

A selection of toys for boys, at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.
A selection of toys for boys, at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.

There are thousands of toys in the warehouse, all sorted by age and gender. There are also miscellaneous gifts like board games and art supplies.

Families who need help obtaining presents can apply to their local SVP conference. The local conference then gives an anonymised list of the families, with the children’s ages, to volunteers in the distribution centre.

Volunteers pack each family’s present bag accordingly, and the bags are sent back to the local conference to distribute, just in time for Christmas.

Volunteer Denis Kenneally is ‘head elf’ at the toy warehouse and helps to co-ordinate the toy packing. “I’m with St Vincent de Paul for 40 years,” he said. “I’m delighted to do it. If I had another 40 years I’d keep going.”

Transition year (TY) students from across Cork help pack the toys.

All of the toys are donated by members of the public through SVP’s Giving Tree Project.

“Christmas wouldn’t have been Christmas for some families without the generous public,” said Anne McKernan, regional fundraising officer.

SVP regional vice-president Paddy O'Flynn, left and regional co-ordinator Gerry Garvey, preparing hampers at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.
SVP regional vice-president Paddy O'Flynn, left and regional co-ordinator Gerry Garvey, preparing hampers at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.

Gerry Garvey, SVP’s regional co-ordinator, said that roughly 9,000 ‘toy units’ are given out by SVP at Christmas.

Food hampers are given out all year round, and it’s a massive operation. Inside the warehouse, there are thousands of non-perishable goods being sorted into hampers by corporate volunteers and TY students.

Volunteer Vivian Mlobisie of St Aloysius' Secondary School, filling bags at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.
Volunteer Vivian Mlobisie of St Aloysius' Secondary School, filling bags at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.

Mr Garvey says that the food is received through donations from people, the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD), and Food Cloud.

“Our local conferences support people through food vouchers and they can order hampers for people,” he said.

Roughly 150 to 180 hampers go out every week during the year.

“In the run-up to Christmas, we deliver over 2,000 hampers, just from this centre alone,” he said.

Paddy O’Flynn, south west regional vice-president, said SVP is not just about Christmas.

“We are going to go into three very cold months,” he said. “We depend on donations to give families food, heating, and fuel. People will go cold and hungry to keep a roof over their head. There are rent, education, and Christmas bill pressures.

“We try to compensate. People with high rents are being forced to come to us for the bread and rations.”

SVP has also set up a new conference in Cork for homeless families living in emergency accommodation, such as family hubs and hotels.

“The demand for charity in Cork shows no sign of abatement,” said Mr O’Flynn. “The calls for help we receive is up 30% from last year.”

A new initiative being rolled out by SVP this year is ‘tap to donate’. This will allow people to donate money to the charity by tapping their card on a machine.

Another fundraiser for SVP is its annual car draw, which closes on December 30 this year. A Ford Focus is up for grabs, which was donated by CAB Motors. People can buy tickets from the Giving Tree stand in Merchant’s Quay, the car stand in Mahon Point shopping centre, or by ringing the SVP office on Tuckey St.

Volunteer Cait McSweeney of St Aloysius' Secondary School, keeping busy at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.
Volunteer Cait McSweeney of St Aloysius' Secondary School, keeping busy at one of the warehouses of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Cork.Picture: David Keane.

More in this section

Sponsored Content