Belfast Telegraph

Coat collection points warmly welcomed by Belfast’s needy this Christmas

Marney Magee with clothes on the railings of St Mary’s Church in Chapel Lane for homeless and needy
Marney Magee with clothes on the railings of St Mary’s Church in Chapel Lane for homeless and needy
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Coat collection and drop-off points for the homeless and those in need have appeared around Belfast in a bid to make Christmas a little easier for those less fortunate.

Friends Marney Magee (44) and John Mulholland (45), who by coincidence began separate initiatives, launched their coat drives at the weekend and praised the response.

After they both saw a similar charitable drive take place on Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge on Facebook, the pair took it upon themselves to make sure Belfast had something similar.

Ms Magee, from Newtownabbey, set up her drop-off point at the front gates of St Mary's Church on north Belfast's Chapel Lane along with her friend Luighseach McCann.

After asking their friends and families to provide unwanted clothing, they ended up with two cars full of items - and the donations have kept coming.

"We came down on Sunday and started to put everything out with signs saying 'take one, leave one'," explained the self-employed mortgage broker.

"The whole initiative is if you're in need, regardless if you're homeless or not, and if you need the coat, just take it. At the same token, if you can afford to leave a coat then leave it."

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Describing the response to her drop-off point as "phenomenal", Ms Magee said that after some homeless people took a coat, they asked if there were any jumpers, scarves or gloves.

Following a Facebook appeal, the requested items came in droves from the public.

"When you're standing there in the street and you have homeless people coming up to you with literally just their clothes on their back, it makes you think that we're running around doing the Christmas shopping and probably buying stuff we don't even need," Ms Magee added.

"It's quite humbling and the generosity doesn't surprise me at all."

Meanwhile, Mr Mulholland took inspiration for his collection point opposite Belfast's Albert Memorial Clock not only from Dublin but from a food drive for the Simon Community that was organised by his employers, Henderson Foodservice.

The south Belfast man now has collection points in the east and north of the city, such was the reception his coat drive received.

"I started a collection there on Sunday morning and I have been replenishing it every night," he said. "The response has been fantastic. I put a video up of it on Facebook on Sunday and it's just hit 100,000 views and it's been shared nearly 5,000 times as well. The response has really been unbelievable.

"I've always seen a lot of homeless people gathering on High Street so I thought why not do it there?"

Belfast Telegraph


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