ISPCC Childline, Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland and Make-A-Wish Ireland to Benefit In 2023
It’s that time of year again! The annual 2023 Woodie’s Heroes campaign is now live in Woodie’s stores across Ireland. This is the 9th year of the campaign which has raised €3 million for Irish children’s charities since 2015. Woodie’s colleagues voted four charities to be in receipt of much needed funds and this year’s beneficiaries are ISPCC Childline, Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland and Make-A-Wish Ireland. Each year, Woodie’s works with the chosen charities to select an ambassador that represents the charity. This year’s ambassadors are Daniel and Piper (Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland), Pippa and Lisa (Down Syndrome Ireland), Heleanna and Mary Ann (Make-A-Wish Ireland) and Jonathan (ISPCC). See images attached and stories below.
Woodie’s CEO Damien Dwyer:
“We are thrilled to embark on our annual Woodie’s Heroes’ campaign, dedicated to raising funds for four incredibly deserving children’s charities. Now in its ninth year, this initiative would not be possible without the unwavering support of our dedicated colleagues, loyal customers, and valued suppliers, who have consistently come together to make a remarkable impact. Working together over the years, we have already raised €3 million for Irish children’s charities which has made a meaningful difference. As we gear up for this year’s fundraising efforts, we are filled with excitement and anticipation, confident that it will be our greatest year yet! Please get behind your local Woodie’s store on this journey and help us support Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, ISPCC Childline, Down Syndrome Ireland and Make-A-Wish Ireland, from now until 12th August.”
You can donate at the till in your local Woodie’s store, scan the iDonate QR code online or if not in store can text to donate. 100% of donations go directly to the charities and are divided equally among them. It’s easy for customers to get behind the initiative with three easy ways to donate:
Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland – Daniel & Piper’s Story
Daniel and his assistance dog Piper are this year’s Heroes ambassadors for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland. Before Piper’s arrival to the Gilsenan family, Daniel was a constant flight risk and even the simplest of tasks of going to the shop for milk was extremely difficult. However, since Piper joined the household, the whole family’s lives has been transformed. According to Mark, Daniel’s dad, Piper is a “gentle leader”, keeping Daniel comfortable and calm. One recent example of Piper saving the day was Daniel’s First Holy Communion. Pre-Piper Daniel found it very challenging to sit still in one place for a prolonged period of time, however, since Piper’s arrival, everyday tasks and outings have become more enjoyable for both Daniel and his family. Daniel was able to sit through his full Holy Communion ceremony with a proud Piper by his side and an even prouder family watching on. The Gilsenans are a big GAA family and have also been able to attend matches together with Piper keeping Daniel safe and comfortable. Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland (AADI) receives over 300 yearly applicants but can only fulfil approximately thirty requests. It costs €25,000 to fully train an autism assistance dog. The funds raised through Woodie’s Heroes campaign will enable AADI to train more puppies and change the lives of more children who need the support of a dog like Piper
Down Syndrome Ireland – Pippa & Lisa’s Story
Pippa and her proud mum Lisa are the Woodie’s Heroes ambassadors for Down Syndrome Ireland. Lisa had no idea that her baby girl would be born with Down Syndrome until after her birth at 32 weeks. Pippa’s formal diagnosis wasn’t made until two weeks after birth, but tests were completed on the day of birth based on Pippa’s eye shape. The initial news was hard for Lisa, however, with the help of Down Syndrome Ireland, Lisa and Pippa got the support and care she needed. As Pippa has grown up, Lisa has enrolled her in several beneficial DSI Early Years programmes, such as speech and language. Lisa has also found the connections she has made with other families through Down Syndrome Ireland incredibly supportive. With the vital fundraising from Woodie’s Heroes, Down Syndrome Ireland will use the funds to help further develop the Early Years programmes for young children throughout Ireland. The programme covers various topics including communication – learning how to understand language and express oneself and therapy-informed early education programme, as well as provide local accessible early learning support for babies and children with Down Syndrome and expertise and support provided by early years educators.
Make-A-Wish Ireland – Heleanna and Mary Ann’s Story
Make-A-Wish Ireland’s Woodies Heroes ambassadors are Tipperary twins, Heleanna and Mary Ann, who both live with a rare genetic condition called Hunters syndrome (also known as Hurlers syndrome). Heleanna and Mary Ann had their two wishes granted last year right before their 10th birthday. Heleanna received her dream purple playhouse with a swing set for their back garden, while Mary Ann visited Disney UK with Make-A-Wish and met all her favourite princesses. Helen, the twin’s mum, told us that the impact of their wish was beyond words, stating “it’s something the girls never stop talking about. To say it felt like a dream is an understatement”. Make-A-Wish Ireland has one simple aim – to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, bringing hope, strength, and happiness. When helping to plan a wish, the wish granters tell children to think about what makes them smile most just before they go to bed, and if they are still smiling and thinking about it in the morning, then that’s the wish for them. Children who are eligible for wishes would often have frequent hospital visits for ongoing treatment and/or surgery. Their wish gives them something wonderful to focus on and positively Impacts the entire family. Make-A-Wish currently have 250 children who are now waiting for their wish to happen. Make-A-Wish Ireland will use the money raised from Woodie’s Heroes to help reduce their waiting list and grant wishes for children with serious illnesses.
ISPCC – Jonathan’s Story
Jonathan has been volunteering with Childline by ISPCC since 2022 and takes calls from children who reach out to Childline when they need someone to listen. Jonathan himself used Childline’s 24/7 listening service when he was younger. He had become a carer for his younger siblings at an early age and phoned Childline when he didn’t know what to do. He said that he would call the listening service “usually when we were hungry or I didn’t know how we would pay the bills. I felt relief and safe knowing that I could ring Childline and there would be an adult I could talk to”.
The father-of-four feels that Childline’s listening services are “a lifeline for kids across Ireland”. Jonathan is grateful that he is now able to be there for children who need a listening ear. “You hear a thank you or a sigh of relief at the end of a call and you know that they feel heard and that you have made a difference to them. I feel like I have become the adult that I needed as a child and that’s incredibly rewarding.” The volunteers at Childline don’t offer advice or tell a child what they should do. Instead, they empower callers to explore their worries and help them to find their own answers. Each volunteer undergoes extensive training to enable them to support and empower children through the 24/7 listening service. The funds raised from Woodie’s Heroes will support the training of volunteers, ensuring that there is always someone available to listen when a child calls.
Woodie’s, Ireland’s leading DIY, Home & Garden store is 100% Irish owned. With thirty-five branches nationwide and online at woodie.ie customers can shop the way that suits them, instore, online or with click & collect.