CUS Hamper Fund - What is it today?
It started back in 1972 with a trolley push from Stillorgan Shopping Centre to Leeson Street - the person pushing the trolley was Niall Sweeney (class of 1974) and it was organised by Fr JJ Harrison.
Niall informed me that it was a Quinnsworth trolley and Pat Quinn himself filled it up with groceries.
Little did they know how the hamper fund would grow over the next 47 years to what it is now.
Over the past few weeks I decided to see exactly what the Hamper fund is about today, where the money raised from past pupils goes to and what affect it has on those involved.
What I found was truly inspirational.
The hamper fund is not just about Christmas – though Christmas is the pinnacle of the assistance it provides 12 months of the year.
And it’s not just about assisting a few selected families. Its reach is truly phenomenal –
You have of course the traditional families that it supports with hampers at Christmas – the number this year has increased with almost 250 families within Dublin communities receiving a hamper.
And when you add up all the members of the families, the number is over 1000 smiling faces greeting those CUS pupils delivering the hampers.
During the year the fund assists in many other areas including providing a hot breakfast to pupils of St Enda’s school in Whitefriar street. In some cases it’s the only hot meal they will receive that day.
It also assists Rhuama – the wonderful organisation that helps women who have experienced being trafficked for prostitution.
Another organisation it assists is Phibsboro aid. This is a voluntary senior citizen sheltered living group under the auspices of St. Peter’s Church in Phibsboro
Those are the four main areas of the hamper fund, but the fund also assists in other areas including traveller education, areas of homelessness and the UCD chapter of St Vincent DePaul.
Martin & John Foyle packing hampers - circa 1980
Now that’s all well and good – but how does all this assistance happen?
On the hampers, about 80 are created by food donations in the school – yes, those mountains of tins and packs perfectly stacked up at the back of classroom are still there, with classes still vying with each other for the biggest stacks.
These donations come from parents, teachers and the students themselves and from both the senior and junior schools.
But the rest of the hampers and the year round assistance comes from fundraising
Within the school, 1st, 2nd & 3rd years do various sponsorships. 5th & 6th years as some may have seen last week, do a collection on Grafton street and over the next couple of weeks you will see pupils doing their annual carol singing there.
But one of the most important areas of fundraising is the Past Pupils.
Last year between the Christmas lunch and online collections and cheques forwarded to the school, Past Pupils donated almost €3,000 and this is an essential part of the mix for the hamper fund.
But what I did not expect to see from my research are the benefits it gives the pupils and teaching staff of the school and this I believe is almost as important as the assistance the fund provides those less fortunate.
What I saw was a level of organisation & management that would put many successful companies in the shade.
At the head you have Louise Lohan. Her "employees” are the 4th year students who in turn create sub committees to run every aspect of the hamper fund including a distribution committee and banking committee that accounts for every last cent.
These committees then get commitments from volunteers that include school staff, a coach company, people within the community and of course parents and several past pupils, and the only answer they accept is "yes, I can do that”
What I saw was Teamwork, Leadership, Organisation, Budget management, Time management and most importantly awareness that there are so many people less fortunate than they are and that those needing help are not always from what would be considered traditional areas.
And these are 4th years – 15 & 16 years old.
Truly inspirational lads and the Past Pupils are proud to be associated with them and they truly deserve the recognition they received last Month.
Please use the Paypal DONATE button to make a donation, or send a cheque to CUS Hamper Fund, c/o Louise Lohan, CUS, 89 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.