Bohs hit back of the net with Christmas gift appealMike Finnerty 13 Dec 2023
Bohemians have hit the back of the net with their Christmas gift appeal.
The Phibsborough club raised €84,140 for gifts for children who will be spending their Christmas in Direct Provision.
The GoFundMe had a target of €80,000, with the idea of spending €30 for every child in Direct Provision.
Organised by Bohemians’ chief operating officer Daniel Lambert, the fundraiser read “it has been really hard for everyone lately, the world seems more tragic and difficult than ever, but imagine you are a child in a Direct Provision Centre through all of this.”
“We want to make sure kids in Direct Provision know they are not forgotten.”
Over 2100 people ended up donating to the toy drive.
Bohs have run a number of drives and campaigns to assist people living in Direct Provision, with a 2018 campaign raising funds to give 100 children Christmas gifts, and in 2019 a party was held for 500 children at Dalymount Park.
The club are well-known for their social awareness and efforts to contribute to the community around them, with the club teaming up with Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland to create a Refugees Welcome shirt.
Following the passing of Aslan frontman Christy Dignam earlier this year, the club produced a limited run of Aslan shirts, with the proceeds going to St. Francis’ Hospice.
Due to extraordinary levels of demand, the shirts, which were intended to be a one-off, ended up raising over €100,000.
“This value of the toy drive goes beyond the material gifts we provide. It gives us an opportunity to confidently say that Ireland rejects those who want to divide us along racial lines. It allows us to recognise that all people must have their rights and dignity respected, and protected. It gives us an opportunity to show what being Irish really means,” Lambert said.
“Our toy drive has been running for seven years now. It aims to do something very simple: kids who are in Direct Provision are children and are not part of the decision-making that led to them living in a Direct Provision centre.”
“We want to get one gift for each kid, to show that Ireland cares for them. Thousands of people have donated to enable thousands of children to get a gift.”
“This action is a simple action, one people have supported with over half a million euro over the last few years.”
This year’s fundraiser was a joint collaboration between the club and the Bang Bang café in Phibsborough.
All gifts will be sorted and packed at the RDS, while DHL Express Ireland will deliver the packages to the centres across Ireland.
MASI are co-ordinating the list of children and on-the-ground contacts.
The Abolish Direct Provision Campaign estimate that there are over 10,000 children living in Direct Provision.
Direct Provision was first established in 1999 as a temporary emergency measure, but has since grown to accommodate over 20,000 people.
Government published a White Paper in 2021 formally committed to ending the practice, with Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman publishing an updated version of the plans in October.
Government plans to end the system by December 2024, following much pressure from advocacy groups such as MASI and international criticism of conditions in Direct Provision centres.