One hundred and sixty seven charities and community groups will be represented at the Good Samaritans’ Service in St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday February 7.
They will receive cheques from the Pre-Christmas Sitout by the Black Santas which raised more than £255,000. The service begins at 3.30pm.
The presentations to groups working with children, youth, the elderly and community groups will be made by Canon Douglas Goddard, one of the Black Santas and former chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers in Belfast Harbour.
Those to family related groups will be presented by Lillian Patterson and those to medical research and support groups by Margaret Murray, members of the Cathedral Community team who do the counting of the cash or this annual effort for charities.
Taking part in the service will be two other members of the Back Santa team Canon Ronnie Nesbitt, rector of Bangor Abbey, and Canon David McClay, rector of Willowfield.
Dean Houston McKelvey said: “This is a quite unique congregation. Every one present is involved in making our community a better place to live in. They are the Good Samaritans of Ulster. They come from all over – including Derry, Fermanagh, North Antrim and Newry. Its not just Belfast based initiatives which are recognised.”
Meanwhile, the Cathedral’s appeal for the Haiti earthquake victims has reached more than £130,000.
Dean McKelvey, who heads this annual fund-raising effort, once again paid tribute to the generosity of the local community. He said: “In the current difficult times economically, not only did businesses, schools, churches, clubs and individuals maintain the level of giving for the annual appeal, we have also received an additional £130,000+ in ‘The Barrel for Haiti’ which was placed in the Cathedral.
“Once again a wide spectrum of the community has supported this effort in a variety of ways.
“I was once more a guest at Fleming Fulton School where each day the pupils face individually more challenges than most people face in their lifetime. The P6 pupils had taken the lead and organised a sale which raised over £1,400.
“George didn’t get his birthday present this year. His wife put the money in the barrel, and I signed his birthday card to that effect!
“A wee girl who had been saving up to go to Disneyworld brought in her jar of coins and gave it all to help the children of Haiti.
“The staff at Newtownabey Borough Council not only held a collection but organised every donor to sign a gift aid form to enable tax to be recovered on their donation.”
The Dean went on: “Our neighbours in the Streat Coffee Shop at the University of Ulster organised a collection.
“I would wish yet again to thanks everyone who has responded to this tragic situation.”