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Northern Ireland people Digg Deep to bring Christmas cheer to kids in need

Charity ‘blown away’ as £160k raised to provide gifts and heating vouchers to fam ilies

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Festive boost: Organiser of DIGG Deep for Kids Caroline O’Neill (centre) with Joanne McCallister, Simon Community and Brendan McKernan, St Vincent De Paul. Credit: Polka dot Photo

Festive boost: Organiser of DIGG Deep for Kids Caroline O’Neill (centre) with Joanne McCallister, Simon Community and Brendan McKernan, St Vincent De Paul. Credit: Polka dot Photo

Festive boost: Organiser of DIGG Deep for Kids Caroline O’Neill (centre) with Joanne McCallister, Simon Community and Brendan McKernan, St Vincent De Paul. Credit: Polka dot Photo

Imagine a child waking up on Christmas morning to find no presents under the tree.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of local campaigners, that’s not likely to happen this year.

Although we may be living in straitened times, Northern Ireland people are never behind the door when it comes to generosity.

And a local charity is just the latest to realise this, after £160,000 was raised in just over a fortnight to help provide gifts, heat and essentials for families in need.

Digg Deep for Kids is also using the money to purchase equipment such as defibrillators, quilts, bedding, towels, dishes and electrical appliances for the less fortunate.

Everything has now been dispatched from the warehouse to three charities to distribute to the people who need assistance in the run up to Christmas.

The initiative, which is in aid of the Simon Community, St Vincent de Paul and Cash for Kids, has already raised enough money to heat over 500 homes throughout 2022.

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Last year’s campaign provided heat for 355 households in 2021.

Caroline O’Neill, organiser of Digg Deep for Kids, said they were “again blown away by the amazing support from the people of Northern Ireland”.

“Over £160,000 has been raised in just over two weeks to help the people who need it the most,” she said. “Thanks to this generosity, we’ve been able to buy gifts for children who otherwise might have woken up on Christmas morning without one, provide vital essentials for shelters and enough heat for over 500 homes throughout 2022.”

Ms O’Neill said she wanted to thank “the many businesses that have supported the campaign” as well as “our team of social media influencers who have used their networks to turn the donations into almost £500,000 worth of gifts and essentials for our charities”.

She added: “That’s the magic of Digg Deep for Kids and together, we have made a massive difference this Christmas, and into next year, for thousands of families across the province.”

Brendan McKernan, St Vincent De Paul board member, said the charity was “overwhelmed by the generosity” that will allow them to offer fuel vouchers to vulnerable families across Northern Ireland.

“Last year we were able to provide vouchers for heating to 200 families from Digg Deep donations,” he said.

“By the time this year’s fundraising total is finalised we could be doubling that total in a year that has been particularly traumatic for some due to the continued rising of energy costs.”

Joanne McCallister, head of Income Generation for the Simon Community, said that every single day her organisation supports up to 636 people who are homeless, or at risk of losing their home.

“We work to offer these families, young people and individuals safe, warm beds and the help they need to live independently again,” she said.

“Often those experiencing homelessness arrive at our doors with little or nothing.”

The donations from Digg Deep for Kids will give children and young people access to the technology needed to continue their education.

They will also ensure that families have the essentials required to make a new start, such as bedlinen, towels and kitchen utensils.

Ms McCallister said Digg Deep donations will also fund six life-saving defibrillators for our accommodation sites as well as helping redevelop the outdoor space at our dedicated family hostel.

Lauren Baxter from Cash for Kids said they have received applications to help almost 11,000 local disadvantaged children.

“We work with local children’s charities, social workers, teachers and other front-line services to ensure that the children most in need wake up to gifts on Christmas Day,” she said. “Thanks to everyone who has donated their time, money or goods to Digg Deep for Kids.”


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