A group of primary school teachers Tara O’Sullivan, Kyna Rushe & Jana Lyons have raised over €5,000 for families in need. Through their efforts and the support of socially minded companies, charity One Family, was able to directly support vulnerable families with food, back to school hampers and children’s activity packs during the COVID lockdown and as schools reopened.
The story began in February, when One Family were contacted by Tara O’Sullivan who wanted to do something to help vulnerable children and families; Tara had seen how poverty was affecting young children in her school particularly those in one-parent families. With her colleagues, she came up with an idea to raise funds to make back-to-school hampers for families in need. The teachers started their efforts with a table quiz and raised over €4,000 for the packs. Then Covid hit; the decision was quickly made to use the funds straight away to help those most in need. Food poverty had quickly became an issue for many one-parent families as schools closed, children were at home full time and shops introduced restricted access for children so it was decided to use the funds raised to help families immediately with food coupons/toys and supports.
One Family had like most organisations moved their services on-line during lockdown but staff still braved the virus, while sticking to regulations, by providing outreach support to local families. One Family’s Parenting Team made calls to homes delivering practical support in the way of Lidl vouchers, shopping and a listening ear. Many parents were struggling to cope; the isolation and loneliness was extreme; dealing with the unknown and helping children manage anxiety with little or no support was overwhelming for many.
On top of the outreach work, One Family, with the support and generosity of Rothco, were able to support 50 children with summer activity packs. As lockdown was in place, families needed support to cope with the challenge of parenting 24/7 in often very small confined spaces, with little or no family support. The activity packs brought a lease of life with games for indoors for all the family followed later with summer packs. The packs included scooters, ball games, hula hoops, bubbles, tennis rackets, balls and so much more as we tried to support families to get on board with the government initiative of Play Day in early summer. Children at this stage needed to find safety in coming back out into the parks and playgrounds and the summer activity packs really helped this happen for so many families.
The funds the teachers had raised in February were going quite quickly on vouchers, so they decided to set up a GoFundMe page called ‘Feeding Children During Covid’. By the time the country began to emerge from lockdown, they had purchased ,€4,000 worth of Lidl vouchers for needy families. Then, One Family asked if they could go back to our original plan and make back-to-school hampers. The charity was anxious for us to make these hampers by July, as they were concerned that families would be worrying over the summer about how they could afford the back-to-school costs.
Tara, Kyna and Jana gained further support from companies; Lidl Ireland donated washing powder and school supply vouchers to the packs. Evans Educational donated pencils, jigsaws, erasers and zip folders, and ReCreate Ireland donated beautiful pencil cases to every hamper. Despite a shortage of stock, the store managers in Smiggle went to great lengths to source the bundles, which include a bag, lunch box and bottle, from their stores around the country. These were sold with a VIP discount and a generous donation of scented pencils. The fundraising efforts succeeded in providing 50 primary aged children with a Back to School Bundle, supporting them and their parent to have some of the essential items ready for the Autumn Winter Term of school ahead.
Geraldine Kelly, Director of Parenting at One Family said, “The families we work with are extremely grateful to Tara, Kyna and all the companies who donated funds and supplies such as Rothco. Thank you to all who supported the Go Fund Me appeal and other events Tara hosted throughout the year.
We hope to work with our Winter Appeal donors who have been very generous to us over the past twenty years to continue to support families this Christmas. If you wish to make a donation to One Family please do so through our website, your donation will help families directly provide for their children this coming autumn and winter.”
Parent Lee said, “ Thank you all for your dedicated work on the front lines and for all the work behind the scenes to ensure my family was safe and supported not only physically and emotionally, but also knowing I didn’t have to worry about where our next meal would come from or how I was going to give my son the back to school supplies he needed was frankly, such a relief.”