The 2016 JRS Ireland Christmas Toy Appeal was the most successful in the history of the Jesuit Refugee Service. The appeal highlighted that every child residing in Ireland deserves a present at Christmas, especially those invisible children living in Direct Provision centres across the country. This call resonated strongly with the public and there was a huge outpouring of support from all sections of society. JRS Ireland would like to acknowledge and express our sincere thanks to all who contributed so generously to the appeal with toys and financial donations.
Individual gifts were provided to 428 asylum seeking children and teenagers residing in 12 centres in Dublin, Kildare, Portlaoise, Limerick, Clare, Cork, Westmeath, Mayo and Louth. The Toy Appeal covered all Direct Provision centres not receiving gifts from other sources. Furthermore, JRS Ireland was able to supply additional donated games, books and toys for use in homework clubs, social rooms and crèches in Direct Provision centres throughout Ireland. In total this Christmas, more than 1,000 donated gifts were distributed directly for the benefit of children living in Direct Provision.
The Irish Jesuit schools were especially generous in supporting the JRS Ireland Toy Appeal. Students and staff of Belvedere College, Gonzaga College and Clongowes Wood College delivered more than 300 gifts. The St Francis Xavier parish and the Jesuit Works in the Gardiner St area also provided tremendous support.
In Limerick, Grainne Delaney, Chaplain of the Crescent College Comprehensive, also organised a very successful Crescent Christmas Pyjama Appeal in the school for the benefit of 200 asylum seekers residing in Knockalisheen Direct Provision centre.
Pope Francis, in his message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2017, highlighted the unique vulnerability of child migrants and the urgent need to respond to the stark reality facing them. Francis called on all receiving communities to welcome and support child migrants and vindicate “their right to be children”.
In Ireland, Christmas can be a particularly lonely and challenging time of year for many children living in Direct Provision. Families receive a weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult (and €15.60 per child) to cover all expenditure not related to food and board and with no right to work, the majority cannot afford to buy presents for their children.
However, as JRS Ireland’s Assistant Director, David Moriarty, told Jesuit Communications, “Due to the tremendous generosity shown by so many, inspired by the true spirit of Christmas, JRS Ireland was able to ensure every child living in Direct Provision received an individual gift this year”.