HUNDREDS of children across West Belfast are set to have a very Merry Christmas thanks to your generosity.

At the beginning of the month the Andersonstown News and the Whiterock Children’s Centre teamed up to launch their Christmas Appeal.

At the beginning of the month the Children’s Centre had over 200 requests for help.

We met with Deirdre Walsh, Manager of Whiterock Children’s Centre, to see what our wonderful community could do to help those in need and, as expected, the fabulous people of West Belfast came together and the results have been overwhelming.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News a delighted Deirdre said: “We are thrilled, overjoyed and delighted, we cannot thank the people and the businesses of West Belfast enough.

“After we put our appeal in the paper we had so many kind people ringing us and offering to buy gifts for children.

“We asked, instead of buying gifts for three or four individual children, that they ‘take on a child’ – this means buying an outfit, pyjamas and some presents. Every child deserves new things for Christmas.”

Deirdre, along with her team, worked long and hard to divide and distribute the food parcels, toys, clothes and vouchers. “We have had so many wonderful people wanting to help us divide and distribute the stuff but we decided to do it ourselves, simply because we know our families. We are in constant contact with them and we know what each individual families’ needs and requirements are.

“We were keen to get the items distributed as quickly as possible so that people knew what they were getting and that they would be okay for Christmas, it takes the pressure off them a bit.

“As well as that, a lot of kind people donated clothes vouchers, so giving them out before Christmas gave people the option of going into town or wherever and getting their Christmas clothes in.”

Deirdre added: “No-one else is doing this, we have had requests from other hubs and we will certainly help out if we have anything to spare.

“The generosity has blown us away, it’s made our Christmas. You just see how much good ordinary people do for others. West Belfast seems to get some flak, but these are good people, it’s been so humbling.

“When you look at the news or read the papers people are quick to put West Belfast down, but we just want to praise the people and the place.”

The Andersonstown News would like to thank our readers for their support and we would also like to extend our thanks to the Andersonstown Social Club (PD) for their amazing donation of £1,000 to the appeal, the Gem, Andersonstown, St Louise’s College and many other local businesses.