Avril McMonagle, Manager of Donegal County Childcare has made public that their
Presents for Percy Appeal has been totally swamped with requests on behalf of needy Donegal families for Christmas 2014.
DCCC’s mission statement is ‘Positive Outcomes for Children and Families’ – today I feel that this is truly ridiculous and largely unachievable in terms of what we do. As some of you will know, the Presents for Percy Appeal was initiated by the DCCC staff team in 2011 to help families in Donegal meet Santa requests for their children. Although this is unusual activity for a Government supported organisation like ourselves – we pride ourselves on being an unusual and creative bunch in DCCC. But today I question this, as our ignorance of what’s happening out there can be easier to deal with that having a small glimpse of reality.
For the first time this year, we have had to turn individual families away from the DCCC office and direct them to one of the family support agencies on our distribution list. The assault to their pride and dignity that this has caused for some parents is embarrassing to be a part of.
“It takes huge courage to walk into a professionally kitted out office on Main Street Letterkenny and tell a total stranger you can’t afford to make a Christmas for your children. No parent should be forced to carry the guilt and feelings of inadequacy that this creates. In an effort to try and ensure that all monies are going to needy families, I have spoken with family support organisations directly to get a sense, without personal details of the plight of families the Presents for Percy Appeal is supporting. All I can say is this; the real hardship, family struggle and insurmountable challenge facing families in our county is heartbreaking. Even though you may not know it, this involves your neighbour, the child who sits beside your child in school and the family you see in mass.
“If you think you are getting it tight for money – think again. Looking back on my own childhood Christmas mornings, I cannot say the presents received were either expensive or excessive. The blue and white nurses set in a clear fronted box, the red tea set which Santie taped 50p to the outside of the box (still a mystery, even now) or the typewriter in a cardboard case with the tiniest lock complete with a typed note to me from the man himself, were the highlights of my all too brief ‘Santie years’. The thrill of getting a whole crate of fizzy minerals and a tin of Roses are ingrained in my memory.
“Treats just for Christmas, simple pleasures, nice memories – the security and magic of early childhood. Never once did I think that Santie wouldn’t drop by our house – sure why wouldn’t he? Weren’t me and my brothers out sweeping the front street for weeks before Christmas to make the reindeers landing as smooth as possible – of course he was coming to our house. The maximum allocation to each child under the Presents for Percy Appeal is only €50 – but we don’t have enough. Some families have chosen to accept fuel vouchers or grocery vouchers instead – some for vouchers for children’s clothes and shoes.
“Santa has had to take a back seat in some households – he shouldn’t have to. Our early childhood memories are permanent, we will remember their finest detail into adulthood, they cannot be erased or changed. I am asking businesses’ – especially businesses’ that DCCC work with over the year, early childcare services that we support free of charge all year round and any individual out there who can spare a small donation to help us this coming week if you can. We need to minimise the number of parents who are going to have to tell their children – Sorry, Santa didn’t come by our house this year – maybe next. Our sincere thanks …”