People ‘falling over themselves’ to help St Vincent de Paul this Christmas

People are “falling over” themselves to help St Vincent de Paul which is set to feed 2,500 families in Cork this Christmas.

People ‘falling over themselves’ to help St Vincent de Paul this Christmas

“People are falling over themselves to give. Everyone wants to help. Word gets out we’re collecting and people just appear, they just climb out of the woodwork,” said Kate Durrant, secretary of SVP’s Cork food conference, St Fiacre’s.

The group feeds more than 200 families a week, but they will distribute food parcels to 2,500 homes in Cork City and county over the coming days.

The packages are made up of chicken, vegetables, ham, mince, potatoes, a selection box for every child in the home, as well as a box of “fancy biscuits”.

The parcel contains enough food to get a family from Christmas Eve through to St Stephen’s Day.

While the conference uses donations from initiatives such as Food Cloud, BIA, and FEAD, Ms Durrant said people in her area, who become aware of their work, often turn up on her door unannounced with all sorts of items.

“There are days you come home and on your porch there would be 20 packs of nappies, children’s toys, and packets of pork chops.

"There are days when you can’t get through the door.

“Then the quicker you clear it, the quicker it’s all replaced again. It’s honestly like a magic porch.”

The St Fiacre’s conference was created four years ago out of a sense of frustration at the poverty and hunger the volunteers saw in their local communities.

This week, food parcels have been delivered to Castletownbere, Doneraile, and as far as Kenmare.

Packed cooler boxes of meats such as chicken, ham, pork, and beef, loaded by Stephen Looney, John Forrest, and Michael O’Sullivan, Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal transition-year students. Pic: Jim Coughlan

Packed cooler boxes of meats such as chicken, ham, pork, and beef, loaded by Stephen Looney, John Forrest, and Michael O’Sullivan, Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal transition-year students. Pic: Jim Coughlan

Tradespeople who use a van for work and have heard about the conference have been offering up their time to make these deliveries.

“I’d put out a call for a van on Facebook or in some other way and I get a text 10 minutes later with an offer.

"One man went off with his partner to do the deliveries on his only day off between now and Christmas. People really, really want to help,” said Ms Durrant .

SVP protects the identities of the people it helps, but those in need come from all walks of life.

“There are some houses you’d visit and you’d never think they’d need help.

"There might be a nice car in the driveway but sometimes that can mean nothing. You can either judge or help, but you can’t do both,” said Ms Durrant.

“All this is is giving a gift of excess to those who haven’t a sufficient amount. It’s not charity, It’s not a handout; this is just a sharing out, the making of an inequitable world more equitable. And it’s what we should all be doing.”

There are times they have gone into homes with young children and hard-working parents and the fridges would be empty.

However, for Christmas at least, this group of volunteers is determined to improve as many people’s lives as possible.

“These are children we are talking about. Life can be grim all year round. Poverty is very isolating.

"But with a decent parcel, they will be able to close their door for a few days at least and pretend that life is good.”

Anyone interested in supporting SVP can contact it on 021 4270444.

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