SEVEN years ago, Dooradoyle woman Mary Sharin was getting ready to leave Egypt after the holiday of a lifetime.
Packing her suitcase, she was asked by staff at the Sheraton Luxor hotel to leave behind any shampoos or soaps which were not empty.
Curious as to why the staff would make such a strange request, Mary soon discovered that the toiletries were to be donated to the local orphanage.
An orphan herself for 15 years, Mary took a trip to the Key of Life orphanage before returning home to see the work that went on there.
Every year since, she has gone back to the orphanage which houses 40 children to volunteer.
â€œThey call me â€˜Mama Noelâ€™. Over there, Santa Claus is known as â€˜Papa Noelâ€™. I dressed as Santa when I went to see them and they started calling me â€˜Mama Noelâ€™.
â€œMy friends have donated money for the children and every year I go over and take them out for the day to Pizza Hut and Funworld. Itâ€™s the one day out they get a year.
â€œThey appreciate everything and when you see the love in their eyes it just makes everything so worthwhile,â€ she said.
Egyptian Christians, known as Copts, celebrate Christmas on January 7.
Mary is set to fly out on January 3, and will spend three weeks in Egypt, before returning home once again to her cleaning job on Thomas Street, which funds her trip each year.
City businesses Ryanâ€™s Locksmiths, Rooney Auctioneers and Centra on William Street have also made generous donations to assist Mary in her work.
*See the Limerick Leader weekend edition for a full version of this story