Syrian girl (4) donates teddy as Irish Red Cross starts toy drive

Serene hopes to help other refugees settle in Ireland by ‘giving Bootsy to kids who need him’

Serene (4) with Bootsy. She came to Ireland from Syria  as a baby. Photograph: Irish Red Cross

Serene (4) with Bootsy. She came to Ireland from Syria as a baby. Photograph: Irish Red Cross


When four-year-old Serene first arrived in Ireland as a baby, her teddy bear Bootsy was a great source of comfort. Even though she had her mother and aunt to take care of her, Bootsy was the one who really helped her to settle into her new home after her family arrived in Ireland.

But after four years with Bootsy, Serene decided this week that it was time to share his love with another child and donated him to the Irish Red Cross.

“I want to give Bootsy to kids who need him,” said Serene on Thursday as she arrived at the Irish Red Cross office in Dublin to hand-deliver her treasured teddy.

The charity is calling on people to donate any unwanted new or nearly new toys that are small, clean and not battery operated to their office at 16 Merrion Square, Dublin 2 as part of their springtime toy drive. Small teddies, puzzles, crayons and colouring books are particularly welcome.

Serene hopes Bootsy might be able to help another Syrian child feel at home in Ireland and is encouraging families across Ireland to do a spring clean of their home for any toys that might help children who arrive her as refugees to settle into their new life.

Serene and her aunt Razan Ibraheem come from one of the dozens of Syrian families who have arrived in Ireland in recent years seeking safety from the war in their home country.

Some 40 per cent of these new Syrians arrivals are aged 16 and under and often have no toys to play with when they arrive at their temporary home in reception centres in Ballaghaderreen in Co Roscommon and Mosney in Co Meath.