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Over 3,000 gift-boxes were donated to the Galway Homeless Christmas Appeal. The main beneficiaries of the appeal were Galway Simon Community and COPE Galway who both received around 1,000 gift-boxes each for their clients. Both charities work with people facing homelessness, with COPE also working with victims of domestic violence and the elderly. Combined, they are working with nearly 400 people at the moment. The gift-boxes will be distributed to clients of both charities over the Christmas period.
The Galway Homeless Christmas Appeal was set up by Geraldine Monaghan (Caherlistrane) in October. “I chose these two charities because I could see that the homeless crisis had got out of control over the last year. I was eager to help those forced out of their homes because of domestic violence as well”, says Geraldine, “I put the idea of donating locally to Galway people in need on my Holistic Facebook page and from there the interest grew so much that I knew I needed to form a committee to help see it through. Within a very short time, a group of 12 people from a variety of backgrounds came together. It was this wonderful team and a county of volunteers who made it such a success”. So many groups and individuals went out of their way to help, and that proves Christmas spirit is alive and well in Galway.
Fiontarlann Teo, Enterprise Centre in Westside donated a storage unit for several days where all of the donations were sorted and distributed to the charities. Local business Corrib Foods, Kiltullagh, provided invaluable help in the form of equipment, distribution and assistance behind the scenes.
Donations were made over a two week period and came from all over County Galway and beyond. “Once the donations started coming in, we realised that the Galway generosity to look after our own had far exceeded our expectations”, says Geraldine, “many schools, businesses and local groups were all eager to help those in need on our doorsteps and, although the hours were long, the community spirit coming together was inspiring and the end result was worth it”.
The campaign was so successful that its organiser plans to turn it into an annual event. “In the end, we were blessed with so many donations that we were able to share them with other organisations, including SVP Galway, local parishes, refuges in county Mayo and also Dublin’s ‘Inner City Helping Homeless’ campaign” she explains, “I think everyone wanted to help our locals in need and this idea just gave them an opportunity to do that and it was the team effort of a community coming together that made it such a success.” This campaign inspired others to start up similar projects in their own counties.