Students share festive spirit with Dublin Simon residents
This year marks a decade since Localise first paired up with Larkin Community College
First year students at Larkin Community College have been busily preparing gift sacks for residents at the Simon Homeless facility on Sean McDermott Street. The project is run in association with Localise (Youth Volunteering) and Trinity College students. Above, first year students including Karl as Santa making their way through the North inner city to Sean McDermott Street. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times
The first-year students of Larkin Community College, in Dublin city centre, have been busy this week, packing presents for the residents of Dublin Simon.
Together with Localise Youth Volunteers and students of Trinity College, the young people at Larkin have brought festive spirit to some of Dublin’s most vulnerable people.
Karl, a twelve-year-old Larkin student (above, dressed as Santa), said the Localise Christmas campaign highlighted the individuality of each Simon resident. Each of the 25 Larkin students is given one resident to collect gifts for and the resident Karl was paired with, “liked creating things” so he filled his sack with “paintbrushes and paints”.
Students from Trinity College helped the students organise the campaign and across the campus, there has been widespread support for it.
This participation by third-level students means “opening up a whole different set of horizons” said the Larkin principal, Thomas Usher. It shows the children that university is “not something in behind a gate that they don’t have access to”. The volunteers from Trinity are “perfect role models” for them, he said.
This year marks a decade since Localise first paired up with Larkin. Mr Usher estimated that around 75 per cent of the students who have been through the programme have continued to volunteer. He felt it embodied the essence of Christmas as “we have kids in here that have struggles of their own, and yet, they’re willing to give”.
Following the packing of Santa’s sacks, the Larkin gift brigade set out for the Simon Community on Seán McDermott Street. The residents there were eagerly awaiting their arrival. Afterwards, Darren, who has also been a resident for many years, “These presents, they mean an awful lot to us – it cheers us up,” he said.