Community generosity overwhelms Mid Ulster’s aid groups

St Vincent de Paul's Denis and Sean unload a lorry of gifts for the toy drive
St Vincent de Paul's Denis and Sean unload a lorry of gifts for the toy drive

Aid organisations across Mid Ulster have praised the community’s generosity after their Christmas appeals received a record number of donations this year.

Foodbanks and charities in Cookstown and Magherafelt districts have told the Mail how local people made it possible for hundreds of families to get through the festive period a little more easily.

Collections in churches, schools, organisations and businesses have helped to stack the shelves with food for Christmas hampers, while lorry loads of brand new donated toys will ensure hundreds of kids will have gift on Christmas morning.

Denis Loughry, president of Cookstown’s St Vincent de Paul said: “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of all the people in the community.

“Particularly the schools and the churches, businesses and also individual efforts like Ronan McGuckin who filled a Mercedes 7.5 tonne lorry with donations from his parish.”

Marie Gilmore manager at Magherafelt District Advice Services, has also praised the work of foodbanks in Maghera and Bellaghy as well as St Vincent de Paul’s efforts to reach those in need in Magherafelt.

She told the Mail: “St Vincent de Paul are very, very good at handing out food, and at the Lurach Centre, Heather does a small foodbank in Maghera - there’s one in Bellaghy as well.

“The Mid Ulster area has always been a very supportive area and you can see that coming up to Christmas,” she added.

“It’s local people that are donating that are keeping everyone afloat.”

Pastor Herbie from Bellaghy Baptist Church’s foodbank added: “People have been very generous in and that’s good for a small village as we have had take-up from as far as Portrush and Draperstown. We are encouraged by the support and the help.”

And the food and toy aid, most of the charities involved have said, will go to “families with both parents on low wages and high pay-outs with mortgages and cost of living”.