Christmas is the season which most inspires authors, playwrights and songwriters to write uplifting words, songs and poetry celebrating its spirit and significance. The spirit is typically one of generosity, charity, forgivemess and celebration. In embracing the spirit, special attention is devoted to the comfort and well being of those amongst us who may not experience much comfort, warmth or happiness for the rest of the year.
Looking back over the last few years in Ireland, it was easier to be generous when there was a lot of money around, it was easier for organisations who provide services to those for whom Christmas is a struggle to dig deep and make Christmas a special time of comfort and warmth. It is much more challenging to be generous when that generosity results in a real and tangible sacrifice in our own lives, and it is much more difficult for service based organisations badly hit by funding cuts and staff reductions to ensure those reductions are not passed on to those who need us most at this time of the year.
That is where the wonderful spirit that embodies Christmas comes to life in all its splendour within the heart of Sligo Social Services! Like most organisations in the community and voluntary sector, Sligo Social Services has been heavily affected by funding cuts over the past couple of years; cuts that seriously compriomise the organisation's ability to continue to meet the needs of the community it serves.
In that context it is quite extraordinary to witness the depths the staff and volunteers of Sligo Soical Services dig to ensure that the Chrismas show will go on! Already, Choral singers are fine-tuning voices for street performances which will undoubtedly stimulate the generosity of Sligo Shoppers, school children, churches and businesses are carefully selecting essentials and goodies for Chrismas hampers, Santa is trimming his beard preparing for his visit to the childcare service, turkeys are unwittingly lining up for the ovens in the meals on wheels kitchen, oblivious to their fate and the Sligo Social Services army of volunteers is preparing itself for one of its busiest times of the year.
It is one of the most reasuring and inspiring aspects of the work we do - that regardless of how serious the budget cuts and staff reductions - people rise to the occasion with generosity, creativity and kindness. Funding cuts or not - there will be a Christmas for all who want it!
Services provided by organisations like Sligo Social services can often turn a very bleak Christmas into a tolerable one. Our staff in homeless services may not replace the comfort and warmth of a family Christmas surrounded by loved ones, but they can and do ensure that those unfortunate enough to find themselves without homes will be warm, safe and fed over Christmas. staff and volunteers of the Meals on Whels services will leave the comfort of their own homes every day over the Chrismas period to bring freshly cooked meals down country lanes and aroung the highways and byways of Sligo to ensure no-one is without a Chrismas dinner. And while the meal will be welcome, the friendly face of the volunteer turning up at their home on Christmas is worh very much more. Volunteers, where they can well spend more time with elderly recipients on Christmas day and most importantly of all, the recipients will see at least one kind face on Christmas Day.
This work enbodies the spirit of Chrismas. In Sligo and our surrounding communities we are indeed blessed that so many good people give generously in order to make this work happen. Staff and volunteers work above and beyond the call of duty. To those of you who give so generously of your time and donations, not only at Chrismas but throughout the year, a heartfelt and warm thank you.
And if you are not aware of us or our work, but would like to help, please please do come forward. The more we receive, the more we can re-distribute, and the greater the number of people in Sligo who will have an easier, lighter, happier Christmas.
Sligo Social Services can be contaced on -071-9145682 or by dropping into our office on Chares Street.
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