fourteen year old Gillian Daly from Killenard was so worried for the homeless of New York during Hurricane Sandy, that she had to do something to help.
Gillian and her family were on holiday in New York last October when the hurricane struck, delaying their return. As the storm threatened, she was deeply upset to see people sheltering in doorways near their hotel.
“Some were in sleeping bags, some were in cardboard boxes, it was absolutely horrible. When the storm hit, all we could think about was where would they go. After the storm, they were gone and different people were there,” she said.
On the family’s return home, Gillian decided to try and raise some money, choosing the Irish Red Cross as they had a specific appeal set up online for Hurricane Sandy victims.
First she approached the principal of her school Coláiste Íosagáin, Seamus Bennett, to ask if she could organise a cake sale in the school. He kindly gave her free rein of the home economics facilities, and to take time off her Junior Cert classes.
Next Gillian went to Marcus McLoughlin, owner of SuperValu in Portarlington, who immediately offered all the ingredients she needed, even offering to deliver more if she ran short.
“That was a huge help, because the price of the ingredients would have halved the money we raised,” she said.
With the help of some sixth year girls, Gillian whipped up hundreds of cupcakes and brownies, and on the day of the sale, was astounded at how quick they sold.
“It was absolutely mental, we sold maybe 100 at little break, and at lunchtime everybody was getting them,” she said.
All in all, the girls raised just over €500, and on December 14, accompanied by SuperValu manager Willie Murphy, they presented a cheque to Peter Middleton from the Irish Red Cross.
“He told us what a difference that money will make, I was really proud,” said Gillian, thanking her teachers and fellow students for their support.
Her father Alan said he is extremely proud of her.
“She just went ahead and did this, fair dues to her, it shows she has a kind heart, and she was in the next morning at 8 o’clock to clean up,” he said.