How you can help others in Cork this Christmas

EIMEAR HUTCHINSON has some suggestions for how we can help others locally in the run up to Christmas
How you can help others in Cork this Christmas

The Care Pack is a wonderful initiative set up to connect people with residents of nursing homes

IT seems that, with the last few years, we have experienced all sorts of mixed feelings in the run up to Christmas.

Firstly, Covid dominated proceedings, and this Christmas, undoubtedly, the narrative centres around financial struggles for a lot of people.

Christmas can be a stressful time, and I know we all have a lot of demands on our finances this year, but if you can at all, it is lovely to lend a hand to others in need.

I have put together a selection of places that give you the opportunity to help others this Christmas - there is something to suit all budgets and I don’t have them listed here in order of need, simply in order of how they came out of my head!

I recently signed up to Care Pack, which is a lovely initiative that is being run all over the country. It connects people with residents of nursing homes and the idea is that you put together a little care pack to send to a resident to ensure they have something thoughtful at Christmas.

As far as I am aware, nursing homes sign up the residents that they feel would benefit best from the service and they don’t usually give out names.

An Post have come on board and are offering free postage to care homes for packages up to 1kg. I am planning to make and send a patchwork lap blanket, some cosy socks for bed, a reusable hand warmer, a pack of playing cards, and I’m going to get the girls to write letters and draw pictures too. There is a list of ideas of gifts you can send available on carepack.ie and you can register there to connect with a resident.

The Hygiene Bank is a wonderful initiative that operates across six counties in Ireland, including Cork. Its focus is on helping people who are caught between heating their homes or paying a bus fare, and buying personal care items such as washing powder, shampoo, household cleaning products, deodorant, nappies, tampons and toothpaste.

There are many drop-off points across the county and you can donate as little or as much as you like.

Perhaps if you are doing your weekly shop or picking up a few bits in Dealz, you could add a bottle of shampoo or a box of washing powder to your shopping basket and donate it to the Hygiene Bank. Everything collected stays as local as possible, so if you donate in Fermoy, for example, the products you donate will help a family struggling in North Cork.

Similarly, many supermarkets have a collection point for foodstuffs that is a very simple and easy way to donate food to families in need. If you can, it is an easy thing to add a few extra (non-perishable) items to your trolley and donate them on your way out the door.

Another way to help people this Christmas that may not be the first one that springs to mind is to donate blood.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Board is always looking for donations. Visit giveblood.ie and you will see the list of centres open around the county over the next couple of months. They operate on an appointment basis presently, the whole process takes about an hour and a half, and it won’t cost you a penny - but you are making a potentially life-saving donation.

On a more personal level, if you give gifts among friends and families, this might be the year you simply ask them what they want or need. It is always lovely receiving a special gift as a treat at the end of a tough year, but there might be people for whom the gift of a turkey or paying off one of many bills might make them breathe a little easier this Christmas.

I can’t finish this article without mentioning some other very worthy causes, and I hope it doesn’t look like I have just lumped them all into one paragraph - they are services we are probably all familiar with, but need as many mentions as they can get.

Cork Penny Dinners are open to accepting non-perishable food items, warm clothes and monetary donations, you can see the exact list of what they would prefer on their website.

We are all aware there are many people living in refugee accommodation in Ireland and the Irish Red Cross is probably the best organisation to donate to as they are at the middle of it all, providing relief and support to families in temporary accommodation.

Edel House in the city provides support and accommodation to women and children who are escaping situations of domestic violence - they accept monetary donations to help them continue providing such a valuable service.

St Vinent De Paul is one we probably all know about, but I couldn’t finish an article on providing support for those in need this Christmas without mentioning them.

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