Charities and community groups will receive a share of almost £200,000 raised by Belfast’s Black Santa at the annual Good Samaritans’ Service in St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday.
Special guests the Rev Canon Dr Heather Morris, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and BBC journalist Tara Mills will present cheques to 205 local organisations working with children, young people, families, community, health and people overseas.
The 2013 sit–out by Black Santa, Dean of Belfast the Very Rev John Mann, and his team on the steps of St Anne’s Cathedral raised a wonderful £196,000, which is £4,000 more than in 2012.
In the wake of the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, £20,000 of the money raised is going directly to the Philippines. Earlier this year, St Anne’s held a Day of Prayer for Syria, and £5,000 from the Black Santa Appeal has been sent to Syria in response to the on–going humanitarian crisis there.
The remainder will be divided between the dozens of local charities who will be represented at the Cathedral on Sunday.
Belfast’s Black Santa dates from 1976 when Dean Sammy Crooks, concerned at the emphasis being placed on necessary and costly building programmes at the Cathedral, decided to stand on Donegall Street and beg for the poor and charitable causes.
Dressed in a black Anglican clerical cloak, Dean Crooks sat out daily in the week before Christmas with a small barrel for donations and the Black Santa tradition was born.
Thanking all those who had contributed to the 2013 Black Santa Appeal, Dean Mann said: “At the Good Samaritans’ Service the focus will turn from the giver of funds to those who put the money raised to good effect. It is heart–warming and very humbling to experience the presence of so many charities together in one place celebrating the work that is going on in our community and elsewhere.”
The Good Samaritans’ Services will take place in St Anne’s at 3.30pm on Sunday February 2.