THE SPIRIT OF GIVING

Budgets are tight and bonuses are scarce but this hasn’t stopped Irish companies from getting into the festive spirit for charity. Niamh Hennessy takes a look at what firms did for charity this Christmas.

BUSINESS in the Community Ireland, a network of Ireland’s largest companies dedicated to corporate responsibility, actively encourages all its members to get involved with local charities or community groups over the Christmas period and is delighted to see such support being shown again this year when the need is likely to be greater than previous years.

ABBOTT IRELAND

The 4,000 employees in Abbott Ireland support many charities at Christmas. Shoebox appeals are annual traditions at many Abbott sites, with employees supporting Team Hope, Samaritans or the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) at five sites (in Sligo, Dublin and Longford).

Abbott have also supported charities’ Christmas programmes, with the facility in Clonmel supporting the Barnardos toy appeal and the Longford site selling Christmas cards and calendars for the ISPCA. Abbott sites also support local charities.

For example, employees at a Sligo site organised a ‘Kris Kringle’ for two local residential homes, St John’s home and Cregg House. Employees provided gifts to residents who did not have family members with whom to celebrate Christmas.

BOOTS

Throughout 2010 Boots had been working closely with their chosen charity, the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), to raise much needed funds and promote awareness of their work.

Activity during the year has included the Boots Four Peaks Challenge, in which members of Boots Irish Leadership Team climbed Ireland’s four highest mountain peaks in just two days. To support the climb, Boots colleagues took part in an in-store cyclethon with customers invited to make donations.

Other activities included the launch of an in-store Boots Recycle Scheme. Developed as a win- win for Boots customers, the Irish Hospice Foundation and for the environment, the scheme offered customers the opportunity to recycle a variety of old devices and inkjet cartridges while receiving up to several thousand Advantage Card points and raising much-needed funds for the Irish Hospice Foundation.

Currently available in-store Boots are also selling an IHF nail file, priced at €2, with all proceeds going to the IHF.

BORD GÁIS

Each year Bord Gáis supports a charity at Christmas and for the past two years they have supported the Simon Community’s House of Cards appeal. As a result, rather than sending out e-cards or printed cards, Bord Gáis has donated its Christmas card budget to Simon.

Bord Gáis will also be supporting MS Ireland.

Bord Gáis also supports local groups in its office locations around the country. These organisations have been identified through various requests received and through contact with the Community Foundation of Ireland.

In Cork, the company supports the Good Shephard Services at Edel House. In Dublin, it supports the Children’s After School Project which addressed education and youth services in the city.

It supports the Moyross Community Enterprise Centre in Limerick and the Lions Club in Waterford.

bt

BT are supporting the SVP Christmas gift campaign in Ireland and the joint SVP/Salvation Army gift campaign in Northern Ireland. All employees are encouraged to leave a gift under the Christmas trees in each of their various offices. They are hoping to fill more than the four lorries of gifts that they packed off last year. One of their keen volunteers is also doing the sponsored swim on New Year’s Day for SVP.

In addition, following BT’s appointment to handle the emergency call-answering service, they have decided to support RNLI across the island by making them their charity beneficiary, so instead of sending Christmas cards, BT will be sending a festive e-card and making a donation to RNLI.

coillte

Bóthar, in partnership with Coillte this Christmas continue their Mighty Oak Tree initiative. This project, which began last year, encourages people to give the gift of trees to struggling families in the developing world, and in return,

Coillte, will supply a native oak tree for each donor, to be planted at Strokestown Park House and Famine Museum, Co Roscommon. Once again, this very successful initiative formed part of Bóthar’s gift catalogue and Christmas campaign.

This project has been a huge success and, as a result of the Mighty Oak project, to date, 140,000 trees have been planted in the developing world.

Money raised through this project will support Bóthar’s existing farming support programmes in Bangladesh and east Africa.

The Irish trees will continue to be planted on a plot specially created and managed at Strokestown Park House and Famine Museum, Co Roscommon.

kpmg

KPMG have historically run an annual old folks party for the last 36 years. Unfortunately this year, due to adverse weather conditions, it had to be cancelled much to the disappointment of the 40 volunteers who were signed up to help out and the guests.

Instead, KPMG delivered Christmas hampers filled with festive goodies to each of the elderly guests who were due to attend.

Each year KPMG staff also support a shoe box appeal and this year 1,269 boxes were donated to Team Hope to be distributed to disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union or Africa.

meteor

Meteor’s Christmas marketing campaign is based around Spreading the Christmas Spirit and they are hoping to do just that with their charity partner’s Barnardos, through a number of initiatives to help raise money for Ireland’s leading independent charity.

They are also again supporting the national Barnardos Gift Appeal and continued their sponsorship of the Spirit of Christmas Ball in Dublin Castle.

The Us 2 Book, sponsored by Meteor, is in the shops from last week. Listeners of the Ray Darcy show with Today FM, were asked in October to go out and take pictures of what they were doing on that Saturday as a snapshot of Ireland. €8 from every book will go to Barnardos and it’s expected to be a sold-out stocking filler and raise a quarter of a million euro alone.

Staff from Eircom and Meteor again took part in the annual Barnardos Santa Dash held in Marlay Park in Dublin. Also this year, Meteor started up a text appeal line and people could donate €2 directly to Barnardos via text.

02

Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, is O2’s new charity partner. Headstrong’s aim is to support young people to achieve positive mental health in their transition to adulthood.

Through O2’s project entitled Think Big, young people aged 14 to 25 can submit project ideas that will help make a difference to young people’s mental health.

Successful projects will receive support from O2 and Headstrong in the form of funding, training and an O2 mentor who will help them plan and complete their project. They also have access to the Think Big Community Wall, where they can post comments and discuss ideas for making things better for themselves and for their communities. For more information visit www.O2thinkbig.ie.

However, O2 also supports Headstrong in some traditional ways through Christmas fundraising.

Volunteers helped wrap customer purchases in selected O2 retail stores in Dublin and Limerick. O2 employees also took to Grafton Street for some Christmas carolling to help raise funds.

They held a Christmas cake sale in their Limerick and Dublin offices and asked their employees to bake lots of tasty treats that they can sell to raise money.

O2 also organised a Christmas Giving Tree in Dublin where employees could make a donation to Headstrong and show their support by hanging a Christmas gift tag on the Christmas Tree in the canteen.

Every year instead of sending out Christmas cards O2 makes a donation to their charity partner and this year the donation went to Headstrong. O2 also sent a letter to their top 100 suppliers to request that they make a donation to Headstrong instead of sending in corporate Christmas gifts.

An Post

This year An Post has helped Santa Claus to reply to more than 120,000 letters from children in Ireland. Staff and postmasters across the country gave their time voluntarily to help Santa deal with the avalanche of colourful letters and cards so that every child could receive a personally addressed reply from Santa, just before Christmas. Such was the volume of Santa mail at An Post’s busiest time of year that the company was pleased to get some invaluable help from the good people in REHAB, Portlaoise.

PwC

Every year PwC distributes Santa letters from a variety of schools in the inner city area of Dublin, from children that would not be guaranteed to receive presents from Santa. On receipt of a letter from their assigned child, each employee who has expressed an interest in participating in the programme purchases and wraps a present and returns it to the school via PwC Santa Elves. Over 700 children receive presents annually through this initiative.

Each Christmas the firm also organises a party for the children of its people. In return each child brings along a gift that is donated to the St Vincent de Paul.

Instead of sending cards to clients, PwC also makes a donation to Simon. The money raised will be used to develop long-term housing options as well as providing emergency accommodation. To date the appeal has raised more than €3.5 million and this year Simon hopes to raise almost €750,000, which will support those most in need this Christmas.

PFIZER

The Christmas appeal at Pfizer, Grange Castle, has always been a huge success. Colleagues give generously of their time and energy to ensure many families have a brighter and happier Christmas. Over the last six years Grange Castle colleagues along with their families and friends have sent thousands of shoe boxes to children in Romania and Albania. In partnership with the Heart To Hand organisation, presents were delivered to children in hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters and impoverished neighbourhoods.

This year, Pfizer, Grange Castle, will support an Irish organisation. The Barnardo’s toy appeal was launched in early December. Barnardos works with more than 5,500 children and families, providing direct services, advice and support through more than 40 centres, based in some of the most over-looked communities in Ireland.

All of the toys donated through the Barnardos toy appeal will be distributed across their 40 family support centres throughout the country. Pfizer hoped to collect presents for 300 children.

STATE STREET

State Street ran two separate appeals in each of its five office sites in Dublin City, Carrickmines, Drogheda, Naas and Kilkenny: a toy appeal in aid of Barnardos and a food hamper appeal in aid of local conferences of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Also, in its head office on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, it invited in Oxfam to display and sell their “Unwrapped” gifts.

VODAFONE

Last month a group of seven Vodafone Ireland employees joined more then 60 Irish volunteers to run the Great Ethiopian Race in aid of Orbis Ireland.

The Orbis Ireland volunteers together with 33,000 other people ran the 10,000 race at an altitude of 10,000 feet. The race experience saw participants running in Addis Ababa, the world’s third-highest capital alongside legendary runners such as Haile Gebrselassie and Richard Nerurkar.

Orbis Ireland is a charity working to eliminate preventable blindness and restore sight to rural villagers in Ethiopia by 2012. The team from Vodafone Ireland were delighted to have raised €18,000 for Orbis, which is the equivalent of 900 sight-saving surgeries or 120,000 doses of antibiotics.

EBS

For the second year in a row EBS Building Society sponsored the Christmas radio station, Christmas FM.

Through their sponsorship EBS helps to cover the necessary running costs and promotion of the station and makes a €5,000 donation to Barnardos.

On air 24 hours a day from November 29 to the end of December, Christmas FM is broadcasting throughout Dublin and Cork and for the first time in 2010 Galway, Limerick and the South East.

As a charity station, Christmas FM is entirely run by volunteers, who are assigned roles according to their area of expertise. Over 100 volunteers are expected to participate across the ‘on-air’ production and promotion of the station this year, each devoting 20 to 50 hours of their time.

Last year’s programme raised €70,000 for the station’s charity partner.

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