While definitive figures are not yet available for the region as a whole spokesperson for St Vincent dePaul, Kevin Cooley, has described the response in Inishowen to their Christmas appeal as ‘overwhelming’.

Buncrana based Mr. Cooley was responding to enquiries in regard to collections over the Chrimas period in the peninsula where it was confirmed that in Carndonagh in excess of 5,000 euro was raised.

Speaking with the ‘Journal’ yesterday he said: “The response overall was overwhelming really. As usual there was great generosity. As well as Carndonagh, Buncrana collected €7,000 over 3 Masses and that was just in the Oratory Mass.

“We have three Conferences in Buncrana and the town Conference spent over €11,000 to help families with toys, food, home heating etc. I would hope that these figures would be similar throughout the NW but right now I dont have any figures .”

Reiterating his comment that the society was seeing more and more people who previously never looked for help Mr. Cooley said it was the reality of the economic situation many people were now facing.

“While it’s not great sign of what is to come for people in Donegal it was a step forward for SVP that people who never sought help from us before felt comfortable enough to approach us this Christmas as we saw an increase of 20% who had never needed to come to us previously.”

On the negative side Mr. Cooley said that it was worrying that there was a substantial increase in the number of children who seemed to have found this Christmas period tough going. The national charity, Childline, received a record number of calls.

“What did dishearten me though was the reports that calls to Childline in Ireland were up by 40% this Christmas.

“My only fear is that there are still parents out there who do not feel confident enough to contact a member of SVP and as a result their children may not have recieved gifts at the one time of the year when every child deserves to be spoiled.”

The demands on St Vincent dePaul are still huge and anyone who can do so is urged to make any contribution or donation they can.