Black Santa Service Celebrates Work of Local Charities
The work of charities was celebrated yesterday (Sunday February 10) as the proceeds of the 2018 Black Santa Appeal were handed out at St Ann’s Church, Dawson Street. Thirteen local charities shared in the €32,000 which was collected outside St Ann’s in the run up to Christmas during the annual appeal.
The charities to benefit were: Solas Project, Protestant Aid, the Diocesan Refugee Housing Project, Alice Leahy Trust, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland, Samaritans, Discovery Gospel Choir, Jack and Jill Foundation, Laura Lynn Foundation, Here2Help and PACT.
Every cent of the funds donated went directly to the charities with no administration costs deducted. The collectors, headed by the Vicar, Canon David Gillespie and caretaker, Fred Deane, along with the choirs and behind the scenes volunteers give their time free of charge every year to support this great appeal.
The address at the service was given by head of charitable services at Protestant Aid, Geoff Scargill. He thanked all who helped to make the Black Santa Appeal such a significant fundraising event.
“It is 18 years since Canon Tommy Haskins started what is now a tradition in our capital city and close to €600,000 has been raised during that time,” he commented. “Much of this, it has to be said, given in coins and during the coldest time of the year – a wonderful effort to help those who need our help. I can’t think of any other event that would have Lord Mayors, TDs and ex–Presidents visiting and donating.”
Geoff outlined the work of Protestant Aid and started by noting that the name was a little deceptive as the organisation exists to help those in need, no matter what their denomination or ethnicity.
“We are a vibrant, relevant organisation with a story to share. And that story is not just about the statistics, numbers on a page or facts and figures. It is a story of people’s lives. It’s the story of those who generously donate and of those who accept our help. This is a story of many tears and occasionally despair but, like the Christian message itself, it is ultimately one of generosity and hope,” he stated.
Protestant Aid was founded in 1836 to help alleviate the horrors of poverty in an Ireland at a time when workhouses and county dispensaries were the only official relief. While much has changed since then, financial distress remains a factor in Irish society. Among PA’s primary activities are grants to alleviate financial distress, annuities for the elderly, heading annuities, education expenses, sheltered housing for over 200 elderly people through the Brabazon Trust/St John’s. Over 1,000 families applied for assistance through PA’s General Grant Scheme alone last year. They distribute about €800,000 each year.
Addressing the representatives of the charities benefiting from Black Santa he said: “I thank God for each one of you and the work you do on behalf of your organisations because poverty is not just about a lack of money or a lack of food. Poverty is also about a lack of hope. So let’s continue together, with God’s help, through the work that all of the organisations here this morning accomplish to provide that hope wrapped with respect, empathy, care and compassion”.