Two Laois students are inviting people to virtually 'walk to Lourdes' and to donate to a Laois charity, Portlaoise Action to Homelessness (PATH).
Sadhbh Dunne and Cara Phelan from Scoil Chríost Rí, are asking the community to collectively walk 1,965 km, the distance from their school in Portlaoise to the religious pilgrimage town of Lourdes in France.
The 5th year girls are working towards achieving The Pope John Paul II Award. Normally this gives students an opportunity to go to Lourdes but with Covid-19 this is impossible.
Instead the girls came up with a new solution that unites their year, the school and the wider community, a 'Walk to Lourdes' virtual campaign, that also involves support for the PATH charity, to which the school has shown great support in the past.
"We wanted to support PATH. We could have chosen a bigger more well known charity that supports homelessness but we wanted to support one that is local and does great work but doesn't get the same recognition," Sadhbh Dunne said.
"As times are hard and restrictions are in place we decided to come up with a virtual walk to Lourdes, a lot of km but with our school community and local community in our town we are sure to have support to reach our goal and to raise as much money for PATH. PATH work so hard day and night to look after the homeless people and we want to give back a helping hand just for them," said Cara Phelan.
Sadhbh and Cara are asking students, teachers and members of the public, as Lent begins to get out walking or running within your 5km limit and send your distance into the email firstname.lastname@example.org
"Then if you would like, please donate something small to benefit the work of PATH, a group that supports both local families in need and the homeless in Dublin," Sadhbh said.
Participants can aim to get there on their own or in a smaller family group. The data will be revealed at the end of every week during Lent on their special Instagram page.
A Gofundme fundraiser has been launched by school principal Helen O'Donnell.
"Our 5th year students who have signed up for the John Paul II Awards would like the school community to "Walk to Lourdes 1965 km. Money raised from his event will be donated to PATH - Portlaoise Action To Homelessness. The main object for PATH is to provide food and basic supplies to people who are homeless in Inner City Dublin and in the local area of Laois," she explains.
So far, it has raised €1,165.
The school has enlisted the support of Bishop Denis Nulty and Fr David Vard from Portlaoise Parish. Click below to watch Bishop Nulty's special video message.
"Finally, please follow us on Instagram for regular updates on how near we are to Lourdes," Cara said.