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Six ways you can help Irish families struggling in a "spirit of helplessness"

140,000 people will be helped by the Saint Vincent de Paul between now and Christmas. Demand on the charity has remained “consistently high” since the start of the downturn.

THE SAINT VINCENT De Paul launched its annual Christmas appeal today, with the charity’s President noting that 140,000 families will seek its help between now and the end of the year.

Reliance on the SVP has remained “consistently high” since the start of the downturn, Geoff Meagher said.

“Most of those who seek the support of St Vincent de Paul are struggling week in and week out on a basic minimum income, either from state payments or from low-paid employment.”

It is when they encounter an unexpected cost or a period when additional expenditure occurs, such as Christmas, that is when they critically need support.

The charity has spent almost €200 million since 2009 in direct assistance to those in need — an average of  €40 million a year.

Expenditure in pre-crash years was around €23 million a year.

At today’s launch, Meagher said that despite economic indicators pointing to an upturn, there are still many struggling.

“There is still a spirit of helplessness among many families seen by our volunteers every week,” he said.

The charity outlined a range of ways for people to donate…

1. Direct donations can be made at the SVP website.

2. There’s a virtual Christmas gift store.

3. Schools, companies and gifts can sign up for the novel ‘Giving Tree’ initiative.

4. The charity’s taking donations of food at its regional centres all over the country.

5. Businesses can order SVP Christmas cards.

6. And the charity’s also supporting people to set-up their own fundraising events. 

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