THE annual Rotary Tree of Remembrance officially opened in Cork City this weekend and organisers have announced a new way to take part in the fundraising from home.
An app enabling people to send in their tributes for the tree from their mobile phones was launched at the opening ceremony yesterday by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Once a dedication is received via the 'Rotary Tree of Remberance' app, volunteers from the Rotary Club of Cork and the Rotary Club of Bishopstown will copy it onto a yellow ribbon and physically place it on the tree on Patrick Street.
Mr Martin attended the opening ceremony and app launch with Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Colm Kelleher, who placed the first ribbon on the tree.
This year, half of the funds raised will go to Marymount Hospice while the remaining donations will be divided between the Cope Foundation, Focus Ireland Cork, SHINE Centre for Autism and other Rotary charities.
Volunteers will be present to accept dedications in person at the tree until lunchtime on Christmas Eve but the public will be able to donate to the fundraiser through the app until January.
The chairman of the Cork Rotary Tree of Remembrance, Jack Cahill, said that while the pandemic has presented a "real challenge" to the project, the technology would open up a range of new opportunities.
“Pre-Covid, people generally wrote their dedication on a yellow ribbon - which was then placed on the tree – and made a contribution to our local charities. Covid obviously has changed all that and that’s why following a trial last year, we’ve now launched this dedicated and user-friendly app," he said.
"We now have clubs in Australia, Canada and the US reaching out to us and looking to set up their own ‘Remembrance Tree’ projects which is wonderful to see.”
The Remembrance Tree was first founded in 2002 by Tom Woodward, who said that remembering loved ones and contributing to local charities has "never been more important".
“This is the 19th year of the Remembrance Tree and we’re really delighted to see it continue to be a focal point of Christmas in Cork," he said.
"Charities are struggling due to the impact of Covid so we really see the Tree of Remembrance as a symbol of hope and gratitude as well as an opportunity for the community to rally round and support these great causes."