Pass It On again this Christmas!

By Maria Shields O’Kelly

Pass It On
Pic: Helen Walsh

Looking for the ultimate feel-good hit in the run up to Christmas? Look no further than Helen Walsh’s ‘Pass It On’ initiative!

Walsh founded and continues to facilitate the movement which endeavours to, in a nutshell, pass on essential items to those who need them most. The idea came to her 20 years ago when she was affected by children doing something similar on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She noticed how the gesture of giving made the children think about those who were receiving as opposed to donating money to an anonymous recipient and walking away. In that moment the seed was planted for Pass It On.

It operates all year through and Helen regularly opens her front door to boxes of stuff that have been dropped off for redistribution, but Christmastime brings an added poignancy. “Last year the driver complained that he didn’t want to drive me again as the car seat was soaked with tears.” Walsh continues. “You get to see poverty up close. I have witnessed families without the basics on Christmas week, never mind the luxury of Santa’s visit. I couldn’t stop this work now even if I wanted to,” she said. The operation has gotten bigger over the years and Walsh is now involved in the Basket Brigade who take over Croke Park on the Sunday before Christmas to assemble Hampers. 80 volunteers comprising of adults and children work through the day.

Walsh believes that this experience in itself is a wonderful gift to give to your child. “The children get really involved and get so much out of it. Croke Park turns into an army base for the day with a wonderful Christmas atmosphere. It’s a huge operation for the drivers, packers and singers. Though last year they cribbed that I may have overdone the Frozen theme tune a bit,” she laughed. “It actually makes my Christmas. I don’t care about any of the usual Christmas hype once I take part in this and have my family around me.”

Walsh told NewsFour about some of the harrowing cases she has dealt with over the years, adding; “It makes you realise how lucky you really are.”

The Fitness Instructor was determined to have a very strong social conscience when forming her business ethos 20 years ago: “If I didn’t have a channel with which to ‘give back’ there would be no point. Now I find that my energy naturally gravitates towards my causes and no matter how much time I allocate, I am guaranteed never to feel tired. It’s what drives me.” Her selfless work has not gone unnoticed however and friend and ally in the Basket Brigade, Bernie (Baskets) Grogan has spoken publicly of Walsh’s charitable nature. Watch this space for more news on where her comments landed!

NewsFour is one of the many local organisations and businesses who are supporting the initiative and there will be a collection box in our offices behins Ringsend Library on Fitzwilliam Street until Christmas week. For a full list of drop off points or to get involved go to Helen’s website, or check out her pages on Facebook and Twitter.