Bohemians Football Club has launched an appealto raise enough money to purchase Christmas gifts for the 2,500 children currently living in the direct provision system across the country.
The football club has joined up with Bang Bang café in Phibsborough to fundraise €75,000 by the end of November which will cover the €30 cost of a gift for every child living in the international protection system.
The Christmas gift drive for children in direct provision is now in its fourth year but this is the first time Bohemians FC will try to get a gift to every child in every centre. In 2018, they collected enough money to buy gifts for every child living in the Clondalkin direct provision centre while in 2019 they reached 500 children in different centres.
The goal is to ensure children in the asylum system will get a present on Christmas day, just like other Irish children around the country, said Bohemians chief operating officer Daniel Lambert.
“Kids don’t understand the complexity of why they’re in the situation they’re in,” Mr Lambert told the Irish Times. “It must be so hard to be a parent and not be able to provide for your child in the way you’d want to. Those normal things we take for granted in our lives, they are things they don’t experience in the centres.
“We want to make sure kids in direct provision know they are not forgotten.”
Last year, the group raised €60,000 for gifts through online financial donations which replaced the previous toy drop off because of Covid travel restrictions.
They have been struggling to raise similar funds so far this year, with just over €16,000 donated by Saturday of this weekend. However, Mr Lambert remains optimistic the number will continue to rise and says even €25,000 would be enough to buy gifts for a significant number of kids.
All gifts will be delivered by DHL, who have offered their service free of charge, to parents a week before Christmas, he said.
The group has also been offered the use of a hall at the RDS where they will use lists provided by the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) to sort the toys by name, age and location.
Mr Lambert encouraged people to donate online at gofundme if possible but said those living in the Phibsborough area could also drop off new, unwrapped gifts (not second hand) into Bang Bang or the football club.
People looking to help can also post one-for-all vouchers to Bohemians FC which will be given to teenagers living in direct provision.