Special Report
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Wish upon a star this Christmas

How to help Focus Ireland raise vital funds for homelessness services

Christmas is a key time period for Focus Ireland, helping to raise money and awareness for the services it provides. This year, the charity is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of “Sponsor a Star”, where businesses can donate money to sponsor a star on the Focus Ireland tree on Grafton Street.

“Each star is an incredible gift to families during the toughest of times, and since 2001, thousands of stars have helped raise funds for vital homelessness services,” says Amy Carr, director of fundraising and marketing.

Corporate giving

The impact of corporate donations and fundraising cannot be overstated.

“Companies often struggle with how to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way and not do something tokenistic for staff and customers. Engagement with a charity and a donation in lieu of corporate gifts allows staff to give back and engage with a cause close to the business’ heart, which in turn boosts staff morale, reinforces the companies’ values and gives people a sense and opportunity to close out the year by doing something good.


“We know that homelessness is one of the most prevailing social issues, and people and companies can often feel helpless about what to do. At Christmas time with people at home and families together, businesses and staff want to do more and giving to Focus Ireland or starting a partnership can help with this feeling and issue.”

Bord Gáis Energy and Focus Ireland have a long-established partnership which places staff engagement at the heart of the work. “Each year, Bord Gáis Energy hold a Christmas party for children experiencing homelessness and staff volunteer as elves, Santa, and Mrs Claus to create a special festive atmosphere.

“This day gives children experiencing homelessness the opportunity to receive a gift and celebrate the season like every other child and gives Bord Gáis Energy staff the feel-good factor.”

Supporting Focus Ireland

There are three primary ways to support Focus Ireland this Christmas: “Sponsor a Star”, “Christmas Jumper Day” and the “Christmas Appeal”.

“Our corporate supporters of Sponsor a Star can share with their customers, clients, and suppliers that they supported Focus Ireland at Christmas and hopefully they will encourage more like-minded companies and individuals to give to us in a personal or corporate capacity,” says Carr.

“We know we cannot do the work we do without support of companies across Ireland.”

Christmas Jumper Day brings some Christmas cheer and raises much-needed funds. “This is a great way to celebrate Christmas, whether it’s in your school, college, office, or your virtual work meeting.”

Participants wear a Christmas jumper or can “jingle your jumper with tinsel and lights, and share your creations with your friends and colleagues, all while raising vital funds for those who are experiencing homelessness in Ireland”.

“It is a nice way to ensure you are connecting with others at Christmas and giving back to those who are in very vulnerable positions this Christmas.”

Donating to the Christmas Appeal helps raise money for children born into homelessness and spending the most formative years of their lives trapped in single hotel rooms with no space to play or learn or grow, says Carr.

“For children born into homelessness, the damage grows with them. But your help today can ease the trauma homelessness causes. A simple Christmas gift from you today could help to change the course of a child’s life forever.

“The greatest gift you can give a child is a home.”

Impacts of giving

The gifts of Christmas giving last all year long, says Carr.

“We are demonstrating the impact that donations make in the lives of people experiencing homelessness: through preventative work which provides advice so families may avoid entering homelessness in the first place; through helping people to find emergency accommodation where necessary; and through helping homeless families to get back to safe and secure homes, as soon as possible.”

Edel Corrigan

Edel Corrigan is a contributor to The Irish Times