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‘Avalanche’ of calls expected for Christmas appeal

A LOCAL charity that aims to help individuals and families who are struggling financially is expecting an “avalanche” of calls for its annual Christmas appeal, due to the crippling economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every festive season, St Vincent de Paul (SVP) provides those in need locally with food hampers, toys and, in some circumstances, cash.

But, given the devastating impact that the ongoing pandemic is having on the local economy, volunteers from the registered charity claim that the need this year will be greater than ever.

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Eamonn Campbell, who has been volunteering for the organisation for the last seven years, said that they were expecting to be hit by an “avalanche” of calls from people who are struggling, based on what had happened during the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said, “There would be a feeling in the town that Omagh doesn’t have poverty. That’s totally wrong.”

Michael Donnelly, treasurer of the St Columba’s conference of SVP, based in Omagh, added, “Some families have a choice between feeding and heating”.

Parents are under pressure to do without to make sure their children are fed.”

Mr Donnelly said that, last year, the charity helped out 150 families at Christmas.

This year, amid the pandemic, the number is expected to be much higher.

He said, “Anything donated in the Omagh area will stay in Omagh. It’s not going to Dublin or Belfast, it’ll be spent in the local community.”

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Anyone looking to donate items for the Christmas appeal is asked to give new toys and basic foods.

Mr Donnelly said, “We find the simple things work best, such as teas, coffee, sugar, cereal, baked beans, spaghetti hoops and chicken or tomato soup.”

The hampers will also contain a selection of toiletries and, if needed, baby items.

• Anyone who is in need locally and would like to avail of the Christmas appeal is asked to call the St Vincent de Paul helpline on 07738 837991.

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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