When Fermanagh Women’s Aid appealed for help on Facebook to ensure that seven children wouldn’t go without gifts this Christmas they were overwhelmed with the response.

They asked for a few presents and ended up with over 300 meaning they can now ensure that all 216 of the children they have worked with this year will have a gift underneath their Christmas tree. “It has been amazing, it really has. To receive all of this in over 48 hours… overwhelmed is not the word,” smiled Kerry Flood, the Strategic Manager at the organisation’s Enniskillen office. “There was a queue of people lined up outside our office with gifts on Thursday and we had staff in tears – we can’t get over the kindness of people,” she said.

In addition to toys and gadgets, including a tablet device and a computer console, there have been donations of money, offers of food, sticks and coal for the fire, and even Christmas trees. “People have been very thoughtful. The community has come together; those who have used our service and those who didn’t even know we existed. Isolation is a massive tool used against women and we have never felt more part of the community that we do now. To have people coming to our door with gifts and donations… it really has been a community effort,” she said.

A local launderette has offered to dry clean the many bags of second hand clothes that have been donated and a businessman, who has refused to be identified, has donated televisions and transport services.

“We all hear about Band Aid and Gift Aid and someone on Facebook summed it all up very well by equating Women’s Aid with the likes of a Band Aid campaign. People have seen so moved by it; people with their own children. It’s 2014 – what child is not going to wake up on Christmas morning with presents? We feel Santa is alive and well in Fermanagh.

Our message is thank you so much – the difference this will make the children and families we can’t even be expressed in words. To anyone suffering from domestic abuse, the Fermanagh community has very loudly said we are with you, we are behind you, we will support you and you are not alone. Whether it’s Christmas or five weeks from now we are here,” said Ms. Flood.

There is a strength of goodness and the evidence is now here. We have always been in a position where we have heard horrific stories and we have listened, we have worked with women who have very difficult situations. I have always known underneath that there is a good side to the community and this is the evidence of that

Mary McCann, Manager of Fermanagh Women’s Aid, praised the “strength of the Fermanagh community

Fermanagh Women’s Aid will be accepting donations right up to 20 December. To donate, visit the organisation’s office at 19 Darling Street, Enniskillen and/or phone 028 66 32 88 98. You can also contact the group on Facebook.

This article first appeared in The Impartial Reporter on 14 December 2014.

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