Big-hearted hairdresser shows true Christmas spirit!

Two of the hampers Sinead Rooney and her son Ethan provide to people who need them at Christmas. She also provides fresh food and a gammon.

CHRISTMAS is a time for sharing and looking out for your neighbours, but here in Fermanagh there are some people who take that spirit of kindness to a whole other level.
Over the course of the past few weeks the Herald has learned of several locals who go above and beyond to help those less fortunate in the community, without ever seeking recognition. One of those people is Sinead Rooney, who was extremely reluctant to feature in this story but agreed on the basis it would help raise awareness of the issue of local poverty.
For the past few years the Enniskillen hairdresser has been making up huge Christmas hampers for families and individuals in the local area who otherwise would have very little over the festive period. Helped by her 15-year-old son Ethan, each year Sinead posts a message on a local Facebook page asking if anyone is struggling.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who need it, the number of families who have contacted me in dire straits. It’s heartbreaking,” said Sinead.
“It started off I was going to do one hamper but I got so many people asking, it turned into two, then three, then four. I did five hampers up last year. I said I was limiting myself to three hampers this year but it’s now turned into four again.”
In fact, the response to Sinead’s Facebook appeal has been so great each year she’s had to put the names of those who requested a hamper, whether on their own behalf or for a friend, into a hat to pick at random.
“If I was to do a hamper for every person who contacted me last year, I could’ve done 30. It would’ve broke your heart picking four names, when you think of all the other names.
“You wouldn’t believe the poverty in your own town.”
The hampers contain all the trimmings for Christmas, which Sinead and Ethan begin gathering in early November, with help from a couple of others. She then adds even more by buying fresh vegetables and a gammon shortly before handing them out.
In the past she has also added presents for families with children, much to the gratitude of their parents.
“One of them messaged me on Christmas Day last year and said ‘you’ve made our Christmas,” she said.
Sinead encouraged people not to take Christmas for granted, and said if anyone wanted to help but weren’t able to make up their own hampers they should support local charities such as the St Vincent de Paul.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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