WATCH: Ennis gym’s Christmas food drive to help those in need

Ennis Gym is being formed to help ensure those in need have a merry Christmas, urging people to get involved and show their support, Jessica Quinn writes.

Ozone Health and Fitness has once again teamed up with a group of local volunteers led by Kathleen Austin to launch a food campaign in support of “real families in need” in Ennis and the county.

This endeavor will not only help these families at Christmas but also in the coming months.

A donation box has been installed in the gym’s reception hall at Quin Road Business Park and people are encouraged to drop off non-perishable foods or other household items to distribute to those in need.

The appeal last year saw donations of 3,000 euros in food and other essential supplies, and according to owner Ken O’Malley, they hope to help more this year.

He told The Champion, “Last year, we teamed up with an extraordinary group of local volunteers led by Kathleen Austin to bring an incredible amount of food and household items to real families in need in the Ennis and Clare region, not just over the holidays but for months afterward.

“This has only been possible through the incredible generosity of our customers and the greater community. To hear how this shared and passionate effort has helped make things a little easier during Christmas for those struggling, we are so proud of everyone who contributed.

“This year has been a difficult year for many people and families and we want to give more than we gave last year to those who need it most.

“Not everyone is in a position to contribute but if you are, we would love for you to get involved in Clare Christmas Food Drive 2021 by dropping a long-lasting food item or other household item from the menu and helping us make a real difference again this year.”

He explained how the drive works, “We have a big box at reception, it’s that simple. Our amazing customers have been constantly contributing to the box, dropping off non-perishable food items.”

“We discovered very quickly when we started this that the big box had to grow about five times its size because it is filling up so quickly.

Then we toss the box and all the merchandise goes to different charities. We’ve worked with Kathleen, who is a wonderful person who works in the parish and has a really good distribution network through the parish clergy and working with Father Martin Blake and they make sure that this food gets to the table of the people who need it most. “

The campaign has already seen many generous donations since its restart this year, and will continue to accept items until Christmas.

“We already have a reception full of food here right now. We are looking for non-perishable items like tea bags, rice and pasta. We have a full list on our Facebook page.

“We had a woman who was here on Sunday who showed up in five pick boxes and I was talking to her away and she said the reason she left them at home was because they were back up at home.

“Our guarantee for her through Kathleen and the distribution team is that these checkout boxes will end up under the tree for the kids who need them this Christmas.”

“Thank God this year, even with Covid, the gym has never been busier. We have seen a huge rise in membership, and I think Covid has helped in that regard because people are more aware of their health.

“We only put the box on reception at the beginning of December and watched it fill up, probably faster this year due to our increased membership.

“It was unbelievable, we probably have a ton of food in reception at the moment. We are receiving donations until Christmas, last year the food we got was actually so much that it went on, in terms of distribution to the community, until February and March.

He said that donations of any size are welcome and will mean a lot to those who receive them.

“We have 80 to 100 clients a day, if they each bring one small thing with them, it adds up pretty much as you can imagine.

“We’ve had people drop in bags that are so small they probably can’t afford them anymore. People are so generous this time of year it’s great.”
He also acknowledged the support of John McMahon and Kevin Talty in the position of value.

“What we find at this time of year, people are very generous and give a lot, and I think the Irish, in general in particular, it’s very good to think of other people who don’t have the same amount.

There are 650,000 people in Ireland currently living on the poverty line, 200,000 of whom are children. Someone once told me that you can’t help everyone, but you can help someone.

“Every little bit that gets dropped to us here we know that through the distribution channels with Kathleen and the local church, it’s going to end up exactly where we need it.”

For more details see the Ozone Gym Facebook page

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