WHITEROCK Children’s Centre have launched their annual Christmas appeal for children in the upper Springfield and Whiterock area with the help of local boxing world champion Pádraig McCrory.
The appeal has been supporting local families since 2010 and last year they supported over 400 children from 160 families. This year they expect to to surpass that with demand already greater than the donations they are receiving.
This year, the appeal is being supported by local organisations and businesses including the Bullring, Cumann Spóirt an Phobail, Our Lady and St Patrick’s Knock, St John’s GAC, Blackstaff Mill, Corpus Christi Parish and Ortus.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News, centre director Deirdre Walsh said: “We really need donations of toys and vouchers for older kids. Everybody loves to buy for young children and babies, but we have older children needing our help too and sometimes they are forgotten about.
“We really do insist that everything is new because we have been offered second hand stuff but nobody deserves to get second hand stuff at Christmas.”
Deirdre said the cost of living crisis is hitting hard within the local community and that people who would have donated to the appeal in the past are themselves approaching them for help this year.
“This is the first time we have experienced that and the need is great. We never envisaged that that would happen.
“We are looking donations as soon as possible. We have 68 families in need at the moment and that will keep growing.
“We have had calls from people in Hannahstown, in Beechmount, in Lenadoon, and we are having to refer them on other organisations because we cannot cope with the demand.
“The main difference we are seeing this year are the people who are in need. We have working people coming to us. These are people who have never needed support but with the help of the community, we will do our best to help them.”
Deirdre thanked those who have donated so far and asked for anyone in a position to donate, to do so as soon as possible.
“Our donations mainly come from individuals, and it is really local people helping local people,” she said.
“We also have the Antrim ladies’ team who will be doing a spinathon in the Kennedy Centre to raise money for us and John Jones has been a great help in organising that.”
Pádraig McCrory said: “There are families and kids living among us who are struggling. This is a great appeal, and it is very sad that there are going to be kids on Christmas day without any toys. Hopefully through this appeal we can stop that happening.
“West Belfast is my community and I hope that every child has the Christmas that they deserve.”
You can donate to the appeal by calling into the centre between 7.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, or via PayPal.
If you know a family who may need support this Christmas please contact the Whiterock Family Centre on 02890438438. All referrals are dealt with in a confidential manner by their family support team.