The Dean of Belfast has launched his first Black Santa Sitout Appeal with a fundraising target of £201,100.
This represents £100 for every year since Jesus was born, and the Very Rev John Mann proposes to announce what year has been reached at the end of every day of the annual sitout.
The sitout begins on Saturday December 17 at 8.45am, continuing until Christmas Eve. This year almost 200 charities have applied for some funding.
Dean Mann was installed in St Anne’s Cathedral in August this year. He said Dean Sammy Crooks, who began the Black Santa tradition in 1976, had done it in a very different era, a time when all people wanted for Christmas was peace.
“We are conscious that the pathway to peace has been pursued through all the pain and joy that such a route takes, but still the need to support the charities that do such valuable work in our community and abroad continues,” the Dean said.
“As I read through the submissions, the need is clear, and my hopes rise for these organisations, as we see what small sums of money can do in the hands of dedicated volunteers.
“My admiration for the self–giving of those offering hours of time and effort for others is unbounded. There are bigger organisations that reap the benefits of the sitout also, and a proportion of the money goes overseas, largely being channelled through Christian Aid.”
The Dean said he hoped that with the help of the team from the Cathedral community and the clergy who volunteer to join in the sitout, the event could raise a substantial sum for charity.
Setting the target of £201,100, Dean Mann said: “Your support is needed as always, perhaps more so this year, as many people and charities feel the effects of the financial crisis.
“Generosity is a source of our own inner peace and wellbeing as we celebrate God’s gift to us once again at Christmas.”