Helping the needy at Christmas

St. Mary's, Limavady students with one of the 50 hampers ful of items donated from the school towards the St. Vincent de Paul.

St. Mary's, Limavady students with one of the 50 hampers ful of items donated from the school towards the St. Vincent de Paul.

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St Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army will help hundreds of people throughout the Roe Valley during Christmas with food and toys.

Both agencies have run a joint ‘Family Toy Appeal’ for several years, and say they are continually amazed by the generosity of people.

“It is totally a joint appeal and a total community effort, and we couldn’t do this work but for the generous and caring community in Limavady, which is second to none,” said Captain Joan Archibald from The Salvation Army.

The toys, collected at various points in the borough, are sorted by volunteers and distributed to families throughout the Roe valley before Christmas.

“They could be to single-parent families, families hit by tough times because of loss of work or families where health isn’t so good and parents can’t work, or families on low incomes and struggle on with what they have,” said Ms Archibald.

Jim Herron from St Vinvent de Paul said the joint toy appeal caters for babies to teenagers aged 16.

“Countless families have been helped, including 179 children last year. It’s been going on for several years, very successfully,” said Mr Herron. “They’ll be distributed to the families next week, in the wider Dungiven area, Ballykelly and in Aghanloo.

“People are so generous. They’re mostly stocking fillers, a wee bit extra on Christmas morning.”

A separate appeal by St Vincent de Paul will also help feed families at Christmas.

St. Mary’s, Limavady, donates dozens of boxes of food to St Vincent de Paul each year.

Principal Mary McCloskey said: “We’ve been doing this for many years as we have a branch of St Vincent de Paul in the school, which is run by a group of Sixth years. We do this to assist the local St. Vincent de Paul and all the good work they do for families in need. Unfortunately, due to financial circumstances, there seems to be more and more families who are in need each year. This is something we can do as a school to support those in need in the community.”

Mrs McCloskey thanked all those who donated towards the hampers, and added: “It was a big effort by staff, and pupils and we are very grateful to all the families who enabled us to do this,”

Families not helped directly by St Vincent de Paul or The Salvation Army will be helped by the Roe Valley Community Food Bank, which opened earlier this year and is based in Limavady.