The Christmas spirit was truly heart-warming in Caledon as a community rallied together to make sure the annual Christmas lunch for pensioners wasn't cancelled due to a severe lack of funding.
Funds for the Christmas celebration were non-existent for the 2016 festivities but this didn't stop determined organisers to make sure Christmas wasn't called off.
Jennifer Marshall, a resident of Caledon, has been arranging the annual pensioners' Christmas lunch for years but there were fears this year that Christmas would be cancelled. But thanks to people's kind heartedness and generosity, the Christmas lunch went ahead as people pulled together to ensure 45 pensioners enjoyed their annual Christmas get together.
Jennifer said: "There was no way I was going to sit back and let Christmas be cancelled. So I started out by writing a letter to the iCare charity committee, asking if they could grant an iCare Wish – the charity delivers acts of kindness through its iCare Wish initiative, to groups like ourselves across Ireland. The committee responded with a very generous donation of £300. I nearly cried when I got the donation because it gave me such hope that we could actually make this happen. I then contacted The Emerson's Foundation - a foundation set up by Emerson's Supermarket which aims to transform local communities. They very kindly donated a hamper which we put up for raffle."
"The local Church Hall committee allowed us to use the Church Hall and chef Ann Henderson, and her team from Back of Beyond, did all of the catering for us. We also got a donation from the organisers of the local vintage rally and a local church. Children from St Joseph's PS and Churchhill PS sang Christmas carols and music was provided by Wee Tom. Social isolation among older people is unfortunately too familiar and this lunch is our way of making sure that we do our best for the older people living in Caledon as well as the members of the Caledon Open Door Club."
Speaking about the iCare donation, committee member Kerrie Gass, said: "iCare is thrilled to have played a part in ensuring the pensioners Christmas lunch was able to go ahead. iCare is passionate about encouraging community spirit and teamwork, both of which are in abundance in Caledon.”
She added, “Through our iCare Wish initiative, we have been able to grant over 20 Wishes in local communities across Ireland in 2016 to deserving individuals and groups. iCare is entirely volunteer led so without the dedicated fundraising efforts of our committee and expansive team of local volunteers, these Wishes would not be possible.”
Alessie Magowan, from The Emerson's Foundation, said: "Christmas is a time when people pull together so it was heart warming to hear the organisers were so determined to make Christmas happen for the local pensioners. It's great so many people were involved in making Christmas happen. We have a lot of customers from Caledon so this is our way of putting something back into the community."
Jennifer added: "I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped us. Without iCare's donation we would not have been able to fund the Christmas lunch and with everyone else's generosity, we were able to add on all of those extra Christmas bonuses."