Community spirit is antidote to doom

Community spirit is antidote to doom
Craig Lynch , Cryille Durand, and Maurice Lafferty working at Meals on Wheels Tralee. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Heartwarming stories are emerging from the doom and gloom of the coronavirus outbreak.

Self-isolation, social distancing, and restricted movements are difficult and upsetting for many people, but they have also prompted a community response, with people reaching out to those in need.

These responses range from fundraisers smashing their targets to entrepreneurs donating to worthwhile causes, to the entire country rallying behind lonely or isolated people.

Perhaps the most high-profile such campaign has been the Feed the Heroes fundraiser. This GoFundMe page was set up by a Dublin businessman, Cian O’Flaherty, who wanted to pay to deliver meals to hospitals.

The initial target was to raise €1,000 to pay local takeaways and restaurants to feed frontline healthcare workers.

This week, the fundraiser smashed the €550,000 bracket, with the likes of Ireland football captain Seamus Coleman among those supporting the initiative. They now have 20 volunteers and had delivered 18,500 meals by the middle of this week. Donations continue to pour in, so this campaign is sure to continue for some time to come. Mr O’Flaherty said he has been “blown away” by the response.

Community spirit is antidote to doom
Jeanne Biares and the team at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin show their appreciation, having received food from the Feed the Heroes campaign.

Broadcaster Maia Dunphy used the GoFundMe platform to rally support for a campaign to help homeless people “get through Covid-19”. She set a target of €5,000 and had raised €7,000 at the time of print.

As a result, €3,000 apiece was donated to Merchants Quay Ireland and Inner City Helping Homeless this week. Ms Dunphy intends to “keep pushing” the campaign and will donate more funds in a few weeks.

There are now more than 200 Covid-19 campaigns in Ireland to support a range of causes, including charities whose events were cancelled, or funds to buy medical supplies, or meals for the vulnerable in communities.

One of the newest campaigns was launched by Donegal designer Edel MacBride, who wanted to raise €1,000 to pay local clothing company Moville Clothing to manufacture scrubs for health workers. In just six days, she had hit €58,000 — enough for hundreds of sets.

Others have taken a different approach.

In Cork, entrepreneur Pat Phelan put himself forward to answer the call of nurse, Ruthie McHugh.

Mr Phelan, who runs Sisu cosmetic chain and who sold payment firm Trustev to TransDev for €38m in 2015, teamed up with rental car company GoCar to ensure that health workers would be able to get to work.

Following talks with GoCar, Mr Phelan took to Twitter to say: “We would like to thank our frontline heroes. There are 100 cars available now to frontline health workers all over Ireland. These are totally free of charge.”

The cars are available to be collected in 20 locations around the country.

Within hours of the story being reported, Mr Phelan tweeted that he had been contacted by a Cork entrepreneur, who wished not to be named, who offered to cover the costs for another 100 cars, while one of Dublin’s “legendary tech entrepreneurs” followed suit with another 100, just hours later, bringing to 300 the total number of cars being made available.

It didn’t stop there, either.

MobyMove, an electric bike-sharing operator in Dublin, offered their bikes free of charge to health workers.

Some 100 bikes were set to be made available in Dublin, with other bike rental operators invited to join the scheme, too.

Dozens of Cork companies have donated their time,
effort and, in many cases, products, too.

Community spirit is antidote to doom
Eoin O’Sullivan and Patrick O’Sullivan in front of the donation of tens of thousands of snacks.

M&P O’Sullivan made a video showing the scale of a donation they were making to local healthcare workers. The family-run business
donated a whopping 9,000 KitKats, 5,000 Fruit Pastilles, 3,000 bottles of Lucozade and Ballygowan, 2,500 Aero Mints, 400 packets of Taytos, and 300 Nature Valley bars to healthcare workers. They also donated 900 Easter eggs.

In Galway, Tribe Hospitality has raised €14,000 to feed local healthcare workers in the city. They set out to raise €500.

A fundraiser to keep a Limerick Meals on Wheels service going is well on course to achieve its targets, too, with some €8,000 raised in just two weeks.

Meanwhile, in Killarney, Kelly Crichton and the team at Elite Event Management have clubbed together to buy a cup of coffee or two for some healthcare workers.

They set out to raise €500 and have hit €7,000 — so far.

That’s quite a few cups of coffee.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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