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Many families will face impossible choices this Christmas

Many families will face impossible choices this Christmas say SVP as they launch one of the most difficult Annual Appeals in their history.

18 November 2020….The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Annual Appeal launched today is one of the most difficult in the Society’s 176 years history.

Christmas will be different for everyone this year but the theme Impossible Choices reflects the really hard situation families on low incomes face in the lead up to Christmas. If you are struggling to keep a roof over your head, how do you choose between a decent dinner or a warm house? What do you sacrifice to buy your children those precious gifts after such a tough year?

Launching the Annual Appeal, Rose McGowan, SVP National President said that between January and early November almost 112,000 requests for help had already been received. Low income families are struggling to keep their heads above water with an unstable housing market, high childcare, energy and education costs. “With Christmas approaching we expect that number to increase substantially and exceed 160,000,” she said.

“When Christmas comes around, we all have to make lots of choices – what presents to buy? What food for the Christmas dinner? But for those who struggle to make ends meet there are additional, sometimes impossible, choices. Do I borrow or go without? How can I make Christmas a happy time for my children and pay the bills? Do I buy essentials or heat the house?”

Ryan Tubridy, who in previous years has launched the SVP Annual Appeal in person said, "Poverty is never easy to confront and yet, every Christmas it is impossible to ignore. Never has it been so important as in 2020 in the middle of a pandemic, and when people are on their knees wondering what do to next, wondering how to pay the next bill, or fill the schoolbag with books, and how they will feed their family every night.

These are basic human rights but for too many of our fellow citizens life isn’t fair. And that’s where we come in. You, Me, and anyone who can afford to offer a hand up to people who deserve so much better. It's not easy for everyone to donate, but if you can every cent is appreciated. All of the funds raised will take an enormous amount of pain from the shoulders of so many."

He has also provided a video message in support of the appeal.

According to Rose McGowan the Society requires the help of the public now more than ever, but in some different ways:

“The need for donations this year has been exacerbated by the fact that there have been no SVP church gate collections for most of the year and the SVP Vincent’s shops have also been closed for long periods.”

“This year anyone donating online or by phone will have the opportunity to direct their donations to a specific locality in the country. This will enable those who may previously have donated to their local SVP Conference at a church gate collection to donate online or over the phone to that Conference instead.”

“Also as physical visits to people’s homes are not happening, the ability of the Society to deliver food hampers or toys is limited. So, in addition to financial donations, SVP is appealing for vouchers which can be exchanged for food and gifts of all kinds: toys, book, music, clothing etc.”

New Virtual Gifts and Virtual Food Appeals have been launched on our Appeal site to make it easier to donate virtual toys and food this Christmas.

Ways to donate to SVP:

Online and nominate your local area

By phone:  0818 176 176 (ROI) or 028 9075 0161 (NI) and nominate your local area

By post: to SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1, cheques made payable to ‘Society of St. Vincent de Paul’ or direct to a regional office, addresses can be found here.

Blue envelopes: Keep an eye out for special blue envelopes that will be in newspapers, churches and delivered to homes throughout the country.

This year’s SVP Annual Appeal is being supported by Brown Thomas and Arnotts with a range of activities. Arnotts have partnered with SVP to bring their Christmas windows to homes around the country with a series of limited edition illustrated postcards depicting each window scene. The postcards (€6) are available in a set of six to purchase on – with all proceeds going to SVP.

Arnotts and Brown Thomas will be launching ‘Tap to Donate’ contactless enabled donation boxes throughout all stores.Arnotts will have an interactive Christmas ‘Selfie Tree’, a contactless enabled donation box which has been installed with a very special feature in aid of this year’s chosen charity. In the run up to Christmas, contactless card holders will be able to support the charity by simply tapping their card on the contactless device to make a secure donation. Customers will be able to make donations of €5 and the Christmas tree will light up after a donation is made, providing the perfect moment for a festive selfie to share on social media. Brown Thomas and Arnotts will also be selling facemasks in aid of SVP.

Smurfit Kappa have kindly supported the Empty Toy Box Appeal which will be on sale in Vincent’s shops in December. For every empty toy box bought a donation of €5 will go towards ensuring a child has what they need this Christmas.

Me2You Gift cards have teamed up with SVP to support their new SVP Virtual Toy Appeal. Vouchers can be bought on here and directed to those in need in your community.

Anyone passing Liberty Hall in Dublin will also see an impactful banner with the SVP Annual Appeal ‘Impossible Choices’ theme displayed on the building.

There will also be extensive promotion through all communications and media channels.

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