Sitting outside the home of Louise O’Sullivan and her two young daughters, Bella (2) and Lily (1), is a plastic box filled with all sorts of food, toiletries, colouring books and crayons, and even Elf cameras.
Louise (22) calls it her ‘Little Blessings Box’ and it’s her way of repaying the kindness that she herself experienced when things weren’t quite so good.
“I’m originally from Castlerea but left home when I was just 17-years-old,” Louise explains.
“We lived in a run-down flat in Kilkelly…it was scary at times but I learned valuable life lessons from the experience”.
Louise was pregnant with her eldest daughter at this time and life had become increasingly difficult, forcing her to rely on a local food bank.
“There was a charity shop close to where we lived and there was a box left outside it every Tuesday with food for those in need and we had to avail of it. I realise how lucky we are now but when we needed help it was there and so I want to offer something back,” she said.
Louise, who reached out for help from her dad Jim, now lives in a beautiful home in Castlerea with her two daughters.
“I was lucky enough that I could call my dad and he came straight away and took us out of that situation. He’s a rock and he showed nothing but love through it all,” Louise said.
Now, one year on, and in a much better place, Louise and her two girls are paying the kindness forward.
“Our Little Blessings Box will be left just outside our front door on Patrick’s Street in Castlerea from 8 am to 7 pm each Tuesday. I didn’t think it would be noticed as much as it has been. I was shocked by the reaction. People have been amazing and all donations, including from local businesses are always greatly appreciated,” she said.
“The box will be there until the second Tuesday in January because I know that December and January are the hardest months for people. At least there will be something there for them until they can get back on their feet”.
Louise says she’s delighted to be in a position to give something back and appealed to those in difficult situations to reach out and seek help this Christmas.