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01 Dec 2021

Offaly school's Iggy's Horsebox to help feed children in Africa

Offaly school's Iggy's Horsebox to help feed children in Africa

The official opening of Iggy's mobile shop took place last Friday

AN initiative by students involved in the Gaisce programme at Coláiste Choilm will see much needed finance raised to feed hungry school children in the Third World.

Iggy's Horsebox was officially opened and blessed at a function in the Tullamore secondary school on Friday afternoon last.

The brand new horsebox was donated by an anonymous benefactor and will also be used to publicise the work of Mary's Meals, the charity which will benefit from the tuck shop's profits.

Mary's Meals is a voluntary organisation, with a very active committee in Offaly, which feeds over two million school children in Africa.

The paltry sum of €18.30 will feed a child for a full year thus ensuring they reap the full benefits of the education system.

Speaking at the launch last Friday, Joe Hughes said he and his fellow students had come up with the novel fund-raising and promotional idea as part of their requirements for the Gaisce programme.

The horsebox is named in honour of the founder of the Christian Brothers, Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, as Coláiste Choilm was previously run by the Order and known as St Columba's CBS.

Mr Hughes thanked all the students involved in the project, the generous benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous and Cllr Tony McCormack, whose firm Print Plus had provided all the signage free of charge.

“We're delighted to launch this project because we are trying to help children of our own age. We're just a bunch of lads in school in Ireland trying to help a bunch of lads in school in Africa,” he stressed.

He added that Mary's Meals was a simple charity founded in Scotland and admitted to being astounded when he discovered that just €18.30 will feed a child for a full year.

“I was talking to a guy in sixth year about it and he said he had spent €18 on a hair cut,” outlined Mr Hughes.

He also thanked local stores who had provided support including Lidl, Dunnes, Aldi, Tyrrell's Home Baking and John Cusack, manager of the Bridge Centre.

Niamh McDermott, Gaisce co-ordinator, explained the programme was a personal development one for young people to challenge them to reach their full potential.

She said that one of the measures involved community involvement and helping others.

“I have been amazed by this group of lads, in particular Joe, for their enthusiasm and commitment in getting this project together,” she outlined.

Business man, Paul Galvin, from Offaly Mary's Meals group, recalled starting school at the former CBS when he was just four and a half years old in 1965.

“I remember my first teacher was Miss Savage and she was the exact opposite of her name, a lovely gentle woman.”

He thanked Coláiste Choilm for their support and said he really admired all the students involved in the project. “These are the young heroes of the future,” stressed Mr Galvin.

He said the concept behind Mary's Meals, which was founded in Sctoland in 2002, was a very simple one.

“The problem was that a lot of children were not sent to school because of poverty and were kept at home to beg or work. A lot of kids also in school were not reaching their full potential as they were hungry.”

Mr Galvin said the charity sources all its food and utensils in the local areas thus helping the economy.

While Mary's Meals set up the project in a particular they then hand it over to the local community to take charge of day to day running.

He added that the vast majority of funds raised, over 95 per cent, goes to feed children with running costs of the charity kept to an absolute minimum.

“Every cent we raise in Offaly goes direct to Mary's Meals,” added Mr Galvin saying that committee members paid for any small expenses out of their own pockets.

Concluding he again thanked Joe Hughes and the other students involved and said their fundraising efforts to date meant that 1,000 children in Africa were now being fed for a year.

School Principal, Tadhg O'Sullivan also paid tribute to the students and said he had been amazed by their commitment to the project.

He stressed it was lovely to see the ethos of the school being lived out by driven by Transition Year students.

Local curate Rev. Fr Luke Ohiemi praised the students for their efforts to make the world a better place.

“Christ said what you do for the least of my brothers and sisters you do for me,” he added.

Just returned from his native Nigeria, Fr Luke said he always emphasised to boys and girls there the importance of education.

Cllr Tony McCormack, Cathaoirleach of Tullamore Municipal District, recalled his own school days at the CBS and said he had commenced first year there 40 years ago.

He remembered with affection the old school shop, run by Bro Rossiter, which also doubled as a bingo hall for fund raising purposes.

“This school has a great record in producing the finest people in sport, academia and business,” he outlined.

He praised the students for their work describing them as “fine young men” and “heroes” and said Mary's Meals was a “brilliant charity”.

Formalities concluded with the official cutting of the ceremonial tape to declare the mobile shop open by Cllr McCormack.

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