BY MICHELLE CREAN
Kind-hearted St Vincent de Paul volunteers are this week working flat out every day preparing over 500 food hampers in time for Christmas – to those in need in South Kerry – including 300 in the Killarney area alone.
Food, fuel, toys and clothes are high on the priority list for most, and those affected include all ages from families to older people, as well as single people living alone.
According to the newly released data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this week, nearly 16 percent of households in Ireland were at risk of poverty in 2017.
This week, Bridget O’Shea, SVdP President of the Killarney area which includes two conferences in Killarney town, Firies, Rathmore, Boherbue, Millstreet, Kenmare and Castletownbere, said the charity is inundated with calls for help – especially at this time of the year.
Over the last few weeks Bridget and her team of dedicated volunteers have been putting together food hampers mainly made up of non-perishable items, wrapping toys for babies and young children, gathering together new items of clothing also for the children, organising vouchers for those aged 10 to teens, and donating food vouchers to families which will allow them buy fresh food days before Christmas.
“All the conferences have been working flat out,” Bridget told the Killarney Advertiser.
“They are inundated with calls for food, fuel and toys. Heating is a huge issue and calls for fuel are way up.”
She added that there’s a poverty out there that people aren’t seeing.
“Our thing is to put food on the table. There is an absolute increase in calls this time of year from struggling families, single and older people living alone feeling lonely and isolated, and those of different nationalities.
“There’s a lot of middle class people that are too proud to ask but that’s changing a little bit.”
She said that the charity has received huge support from local businesses, schools and individual people over the last few weeks.
“We want to thank all our fundraisers. We had a lot of companies in town who donated boxes of food, hotels did giving trees and schools donated toys. We wouldn’t be able to manage without the generosity of the benefactors.”