Friday, November 29, 2019

THE never give up/fight to the end attitude of one Laois man shone through last week, when an online account with over €8,000 was shut down and the funds returned to the donors.

Facebook claimed that the Santa’s Helpers GoFundMe account had violated its terms and conditions.

Santa’s Helpers was set up just a few weeks ago. The purpose of the voluntary group is to go around Laois paying visits to little boys and girls and giving them presents in the run-up to Christmas.

The group was established by Mountmellick natives Chris Navarre, who has been living in America since 1964, and Darren Conroy, who now resides in Portlaoise. The idea of the venture came about after Chris posted money home asking Darren to buy a Christmas present for a child in her native Mountmellick who may need it. Chris said that every year before he passed away, her husband Fred would pay for a bicycle to be delivered to a child from a disadvantaged family.

The idea quickly took hold and Darren set about establishing a group in Laois, which would act as Santa’s Helpers.

The group set up a GoFundMe page and quickly collected €8,261.80. Just a day before the funds were to be transferred to a bank account, Facebook informed Darren that his GoFundMe page had violated its fundraising policy and was returning the full amount to the donors.

Despite repeated attempts by Darren to establish what policies had been breached, he said that Facebook did not reply to him.

Following the major setback, people quickly rallied around wanting to know what they could do to help the group.

A bank account was set up ‒ IBAN: IE28 BOFI 9018 1080 6217 03; BIC NO BOFIIE2D; account name, Darren Conroy; Bank of Ireland, Mountmellick ‒ and funds started to pour in again.

The group had set a target of €20,000, but the setback left them with just €6,000. However, through the generously of people and the faith in Darren’s cause and his determination, the bank account has now swelled to €12,500.

An undeterred Darren said: “I wish to thank our wonderful committee of dedicated people who came to the rescue and each and every donor, also community volunteers who came forward to promote and collect and those who messaged and told us to get back in the ring.

“Five days after we were kicked in the gut, it is my pleasure to inform you that, buried we are not and in the bank we have €12,500 to be spent on families in our communities. This figure will grow and hopefully if we get all donations back will exceed €15,000.”

And on the work of Santa’s Helpers, whose members remain anonymous, Darren said: “The beauty of this is that the recipients will never know it was us. Discretion, dignity and anonymity are assured. No photos, no thanks. Never give up. Fight to the end. Some people who are doing their best are struggling. Some children have no-one in their corner.”

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By Joe Barrett
Contact Newsdesk: +353 57 86 70216

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