THEY say charity begins at home and that is what the St Vincent de Paul shop in Castleconnell is all about.
Staff recently celebrated their first anniversary of its opening in Bruach na Sionna.
But the charity has worked in the parish of Ahane, Castleconnell and Montpelier for 38 years. There was also a shop on Castle Street for 20 years.
Since they opened a new shop a year ago one of the volunteers, Josephine Coleman, said it has been a big success.
“We have done much better than we thought but there is a bigger demand there now as well,” said Josephine.
With Christmas around the corner they are asking for people to hand unwanted presents and gifts in to the shop.
“There is always a demand for help from people in need and help from the public is crucial and much appreciated.
“One person’s junk is another’s treasure,” said Josephine,
St Vincent de Paul are currently running a toy appeal in Super Valus and local volunteers are lucky enough to have a store in Castleconnell.
“It is going OK, not nearly as good as last year. Obviously money isn’t flowing as much.
“It also means a lot of families looking for items, we don’t know if we will be able to provide it,” said Josephine.
But thanks to the shop they do have food hampers and coal for those in financial dire straits this Christmas.
“We wouldn’t be able to do that without the shop.
“Everything that is made goes back into the parish,” said Josephine, who is one of 21 volunteers.
With the revelations about donations being used to top up salaries at the Central Remedial Clinic hitting the headlines Josephine reveals that they don’t earn a penny.
“There is nobody paid. We have 21 volunteers and there is nobody paid. Everyone is volunteering their time for free,” said Josephine, who is from Lisnagry.
Indeed, all 21 are from the parish so it a completely local effort.
There is a post box in the shop if you need help; call in and speak to president of the shop, Bridget Healy or contact St Vincent de Paul in Limerick city and they will put you in touch with staff in Castleconnell.
It is completely confidential, stresses Josephine, who is president of their visitation conference.
The aim of the St Vincent de Paul is to tackle poverty in all its forms through the provision of practical assistance to those in need. The shop is just one branch of their work in the community.
The concept of need is broader than financial hardship, so visiting the sick, the lonely, the imprisoned form a large proportion of the society’s work.
They operate in small groups, called conferences, based on local parishes which meet regularly and their work is usually concentrated on local visiting.
In total, the shop has helped raise over €12,000 since its doors were opened for the first time.
A large crowd attended the celebration of their one year anniversary.
Their takings trebled compared to a normal day.
“The volunteers in the St Vincent de Paul shop wish to thank all those who have supported them throughout the year.
“We welcome donations of clothing, toys, bedding, bric-a-brac, etc.
“We are especially grateful to local businesses and individuals, without whose support we could not achieve our goal to help the needy,” summed up Josephine.
For those in need of help the contact number for the headquarters of St Vincent de Paul in Limerick is Ozanam House, Hartstonge Street contact 061 317327.
Or to support their efforts drop in to the shop to hand in unwanted items or purchase one of their huge range of goods.