Athlone native Fiona Clarke is appealing to locals to support the ‘Mas on a Mission' Christmas Toy Appeal this weekend

Appeal to Athlonians to support toy appeal

An Athlone native has joined forces with a nationwide toy appeal in a bid to bring some Christmas cheer to struggling families, homeless kids and sick children this year.

Fiona Clarke, who works in B&Q in Arcadia, is part of an online community of almost 100,000 women who are members of 'Mas on a Mission' Facebook page where all kinds of topics are discussed, but many of the most poignant messages are from those at risk of, or actually homeless, and the struggles they face daily. 

The appeal was set up after the founder of the Facebook page, Suzanne Burke from Kildare, was so touched by the messages and a recent picture of a homeless boy on the streets of Dublin eating his dinner that she decided to make Christmas a little brighter for kids like him and their families.

In Athlone, people will have their chance to donate this Saturday, November 16 in the car park in front of B&Q in Arcadia Retail Park from 10am to 1pm where they can drop off new toys as part of the initiative which aims to collect 20,000 toys for charities, refuges and hospitals countrywide.

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent on Monday, Fiona Clarke explained that she was prompted to get involved after 'Mas on Mission' Facebook page sought volunteers to operate their nationwide drop-off points and she will look after the Athlone one where they hope to create a festive atmosphere with Santa, music and fun for the little ones on Saturday. 

“We are looking for people to donate a new toy, it could be a little teddy or doll, it doesn't have to be expensive, and they will be donated to a list of charities in every county in Ireland. In Athlone and the Midlands, the toys will go to Midlands Simon Community and Esker House Refuge. In other areas they will go to COPE, Ronald McDonald House, the Peter McVerry Trust, hospitals and the SVP and many more,” she said. 

“If anyone wants to donate before November 16 you can drop it into me in B&Q, otherwise it's in the carpark from 10am to 1pm this Saturday,” Fiona added.

A GoFundMe page set up by 'Mas on a Mission' Facebook page has already raised €21,000 for the appeal, and they are very thankful to the many businesses who have already been so generous in terms of toy donations, help with transport and warehousing to store the collected toys before they are distributed in the run-up to Christmas.