In 2002 HSE staff in Mayo came up with an initiative to ensure that less privileged children in the county and their families would have a fair chance to enjoy the Christmas festive season.
The plan was to organise the giving of presents anonymously to children in families under financial strain. The initiative, which was given the appropriate title of Bronntanas, involved a group of HSE staff, their families and friends coming together with volunteers from voluntary organisations in the weeks before Christmas to collect and distribute presents anonymously to children at risk of not receiving a gift at Christmas Time.
The initial project was a tremendous success and has been repeated every year since then. Now in its 16th year, it is carried out under the guidance of the Health Service Executive and TUSLA Mayo. The success of the scheme can be seen from the fact that last year the venture resulted in gifts being given to over 450 children.
Teresa Quinn, Family Support Team Leader, Tusla is one of the organisers of the Bronntanas appeal, says that she is hopeful that people will show the same kindness and generosity again this year. "There are families in our community experiencing financial strain in the lead up to Christmas, when parents should be able to relax and enjoy the festive season, there will be some who will be anxious that their children may be disappointed on Christmas morning."
"Under the Bronntanas appeal, each volunteer is given the initials of a child, their age, whether they are a boy or girl, and what they would like for Christmas. The suitability of the present for the particular child is more important than the actual amount spent on the present. There is a cap on the amount to be spent on gifts so that all the children are treated equally.
"The success of this Bronntanas appeal is a great testament to the generosity and thoughtfulness of people throughout Mayo especially during the height of the recession. Volunteers have worked very hard over the past number of years to ensure that children in Mayo and their families have the opportunity to enjoy the festive season.
"This very worthy cause could not continue to be so successful without the generosity of the people or without the herculean efforts of the volunteers who work so hard every year on the project. As a community we are all indebted to all of them."
If you would like to help a child in Mayo in this way, please contact Teresa Quinn at [email protected] or phone (087 ) 9962152.