Patrick Handford Brady, Manager at Vincent’s in Virginia

‘Many families face impossible choices this Christmas’

Christmas is different for everyone, but for some the most festive time of year can be difficult.

“You’ve people struggling to keep a roof over their head, or choosing between what to eat or to warm their house? And if there are young children in a family, what do you sacrifice to make sure they have something to open on Christmas morning?”

These is the reality for some families painted by Patrick Handford Brady, manager at the Vincent’s store in Virginia, located at Unit 3 of the Virginia Shopping Centre.

In addition to seeking financial donations and goods this year, Patrick is helping promote the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Empty Toy Box Appeal, where people are invited to visit their local store and buy an empty toy box for €5. Patrick explains: “All donations will be used in the community they are bought to help ensure that children and families have what they need this winter.”

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is the largest, voluntary, charitable organisation in Ireland. It has a network of 11,000 volunteers throughout the country.

Along with the organisation’s various appeals - from SVP Virtual Gifts ( to their Virtual Food Appeal ( and Empty Plate Appeal - individual Vincent’s shops are hosting a range of in-store initiatives.

In the case of Vincent’s in Virginia, Patrick and his team of volunteers have been busily setting aside some of the “boxed and as new” toy donations throughout the year with one eye in the run-up to Christmas.

“We’ve had some very generous donations throughout the year, which we are very thankful for. It ranges from toys to gifts, and in the case of toys, we’ve opened our ‘As New’ toy box here at the shop in Virginia where customers can buy some incredible items at knock-down prices.”

Patrick adds that ,by supporting local charity shops such as Vincent’s, the public are also working towards helping support greener Christmas too.

“By recycling gifts that are perfectly usable, perhaps left aside and unused from the year before, it’s saving what could inadvertently end up in the bin and then of course our landfill. So, by donating, you’re not only supporting a good cause, but also helping the environment.”