On Tuesday morning, learning of the death of the writer and journalist Maeve Binchy, Seamus Dooley of the National Union of Journalists paid tribute to her "generosity of spirit".
It was a phase that captured the best selling author's character, but in a way, it could also be an apt way to describe the local communities and individuals right around the county and country. Generosity of spirit is something that has been very noticeable in recent times, and was probably always there, under the surface, had one scratched at the fleece of the much-maligned Celtic Tiger. And generosity of spirit also covers generosity of time, of effort, and indeed of money, scarce as it it these days.
All these come to the fore when individuals suffer a set back, or communities need a project carried out which requires fundraising efforts.
It is quite remarkable how people rally around those who experience problems, major or minor. In last week's edition, the Meath Chronicle carried the story of the young Skryne footballer and student, Alisha Jordan, who was the subject of an unprovoked assault in the Bronx in New York, where she was spending the summer playing football.
Skryne Ladies GFC and Meath Ladies County Board have organised a fundraising night in The Palace on Friday 17th August to help cover the costs of the medical treatment Alisha requires arising from the injuries she sustained in the attack. The medical costs will be significant. This is just one example of the generosity of spirit that shines when a family is hit by a tragic incident such as this.
All around the county, fundraising efforts are taking place for people hit by problems or communities needing to carry out essential projects.
Hospitals are often worthy beneficiaries of such fundraising. Over 1,000 people took part in last month's Dawn Run on the Hill of Tara, organised by James Gibbon and Shay Sheridan for Crumlin Children's Hospital. Some €22,000 was raised.
In the Kiltale and Summerhill areas, fundraising is taking place from Anna Carroll, who was involved in a serious car accident at Dunsany last winter. Her house needs to be adapted. Similarily, around Trim, fundraising is taking place for Stephen Kennedy, who also received serious injuries in a car accident. When Kilmessan hurler Ger O'Neill suffered a health set back recently, the local GAA clubs rowed in with a fundraising night.
There were massive money gathering events for young Kayleigh Dunne and Casey Fitzgerald, two local girls who needed to go to America and England for necessary surgery to help them walk properly. Similarly, some years back, when a number of people from around Navan needed to go to America for life saving brain surgery, people weren't found wanting when it came to making donations.
Over the past weekend, hundreds of farmers travelled across the country to gather at Platin in Duleek to create a new combine harvesting record and raise the guts of €150,000 for charity. In Trim, the nominated charity of the An Post Meath Heritage Cycle was the Meath branch of the Alzheimers Association, based at Navan, which was the recipient of sponsorship monies from those participating. It is an organisation which does great work caring for those suffering from Alzheimers around the county and has experienced much generosity.
The Second Annual Report on Fundraising in Ireland, compiled from data in accounts filed by not for profit groups at the Companies Office, and published late last year, showed that Irish charities was managing to increase fundraising despite the recession. However, the improvement is not evenly spread with larger charities, especially those in the international development and health sectors, doing better than others.
Overall, there was a 24 per cent increase in the amount raised in 2010, compared to the previous year. The figures in the survey, carried out by not for profit sector consultancy 2into3, relate to 171 groups. The author acknowledged that the survey sample is not statistically representative of the more than 9,000 groups in the not for profit sector in Ireland, but simply provides a snapshot of fundraising.
The State remains a key source of income for the sector, accounting for 34 per cent of total income, down slightly on 2009. The Haiti earthquake was a major factor in the increase in funding for international development groups at the time, showing that the generosity of the Irish people applies not just to their own, but extends to those in trouble overseas.
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