By Susan Gately - 29 November, 2013
“We not only want to ensure that no child is left disappointed, but that no family is left struggling because of the cost of Christmas.”
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has teamed up with RTÉ 2fm, Supervalu, Toymaster and Easons for ‘Operation Santa’ which allows people to buy a virtual gift online which will be distributed by the SVP to those in need.
The SVP has appealed to the public to buy these ‘virtual gifts’ or vouchers so that they can “transform Christmas for thousands of families”.
The ‘Operation Santa’ scheme allows participants to buy a virtual gift online, or a voucher in Supervalu, or drop off an unwrapped toy at a local Supervalu store, or buy vouchers at Toymaster or Easons.
The SVP will then distribute the toys and vouchers to those who need it most in the area where the gift is donated.
People can buy Supervalu vouchers at the till in their local stores and drop the voucher in the boxes provided.
The unwrapped presents can also be dropped off in Supervalu, but the charity does not accept soft toys, toys with small pieces that can be swallowed by babies or toddlers, or war figures or guns.
But they have lots of suggestions for gifts the public can donate. For older children or adults they suggest hats, gloves, scarves sets, jumpers, jackets, books, DVDs, electronic gadgets and vouchers.
They suggest books, kits for making things, art supplies, vouchers, sports items and T-shirts for younger children.
Meanwhile, the SVP is also encouraging children not to buy their teachers traditional gifts for Christmas, but to buy instead an SVP ‘Gift Voucher’ which shows they have bought a gift for a family in need.
The voucher reads: Dear Teacher, Thank you for all your help throughout the year. Instead of buying you a gift this Christmas, I have donated a toy to the 2FM Toy Appeal for St Vincent de Paul on your behalf.
The gifts available online range from ‘My first teddy’ at €5 to a Christmas dinner at €150. In between there are a range of gifts: my first dolly (€10), book (€15), sport ( €25), bike (€50), guitar (€75), Christmas tree (€30) and Christmas fire (€60).
Last year, the appeal brought in some 65,000 toys worth over €1,000,000, which were donated and distributed to families in need over the Christmas period.
As part of the toy donation drive, last Wednesday (27 November), 2fm DJs broadcast live from the window of Brown Thomas and celebrities like Hector and Jack Reynor made appearances throughout the day to make their own donations and encourage public support.