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Encouraging words most helpful as barrel is rolled out for the 40th time

By Dean John Mann

It's always good to get started! No matter what, the first step must be taken, and then who knows how a new undertaking is going to work? Encouragement is part of it as well. As generous people give towards the needs of others, so the gift is more than financial.

I am aware, speaking to representatives of charities that receive a grant from Black Santa, that just being acknowledged is in itself a help. So can I pass on to the charities hoping the Christmas sit-out makes plenty of money this year, there was lots of encouragement yesterday.

Many of the questions people ask start with a reference to this being the 40th anniversary of Black Santa, and how that tradition is being both maintained and developed.

Last year, if you remember, we introduced the facility for people to give by credit or debit card; this year we have a 'Just Giving' page which can be accessed easily online - just visit www.justgiving.com and search for Belfast Cathedral Black Santa 2016. And, of course, for a couple of years now it has been possible to give by direct transfer of money to the Cathedral sit-out bank account. The details are: Sort Code 90-21-27, Account Number 60907288.

Naturally, though, lest the tradition be lost, or altered irretrievably, the majority of money will still be given through cash and cheques placed in the old barrel. The Bushmills Distillery made it for a former Dean, and many a pound, euro, or even US dollar has been dropped in it since.

Day two, and the promise of a cloudy but dry day ahead. That sounds like the sort of encouragement that I like; that, and the presence of lots of people for a Saturday shop, to chat to and share the joy of the season!

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