Some months ago Jennifer and I were a little taken aback to observe a small light bulb blink into life above the head of Hand in Hand Volunteer Extraoideardinaire, Dee Whyte.  Before we had a chance to point out this weird anomaly to her Dee’s eyes took on a wild look as she snapped her fingers and said:

“Has anyone ever thought of contacting DoneDeal before?  I’ve heard that as a company they are really committed to raising money for charity.”  I don’t think that we knew much about DoneDeal other than its phenomenal success story in becoming the biggest website in Ireland given to advertising second-hand goods; but anything that Dee suggests tends to be a good idea.

Notoriously modest as she is, I never found out what was in Dee’s letter; but, whatever way it was worded, the outcome went far beyond what we might have reasonably expected.  The upshot was that just over a week ago Jennifer got into the Hand in Hand-Mobile (it’s getting hard to pry her out from behind the wheel; if let loose I think that she would have her own superhero costume made, with the HinH logo on the frontDonedeal logo!) and off she went to Wexford where the terrific folk of DoneDeal were ready to present her with a check.

As it happens, this is something that takes place on a bi-monthly schedule:  three staff members, on a rotating basis, give their suggestions for what they see as three worthy charities.  These then receive an equal share from the income on 10% of all ads that have been placed that month.  For March, that had amounted to a staggering €39,759, to be divided equally between the chosen three.  I think that it’s fair to say that Hand in Hand were simply bowled over, as no doubt were the two charities who shared our good fortune—Solas Centre Wexford and Cunamh Mhuire Pre-school.

DoneDeal representative Kevin Murphy handled the task of choosing from the list of nominees and Jennifer had the great pleasure of meeting him.  Nor is ‘great pleasure’ just one of those phrases put there to overstate things.  After listening to her wax lyrical not only about Kevin, but the entire working environment of DoneDeal, I was extremely sorry that I hadn’t been able to join Jennifer and see it for myself.  She says:

“Kevin explained that one of the founders of DoneDeal, Fred Karlsson, is a native of Sweden who has made Ireland his home over the past ten years and is in fact now married to a Wexford lady, Geraldine.

“He went on to say that Mr. Karlsson feels that he has been given so much happiness here that he felt compelled to put back into a country where he has been able to achieve so much.

“What I found quite remarkable is that this wonderful, ongoing charitable scheme is so clearly altruistic and yet it is all carried out with a minimum of fuss.  There is none of the hype, search for publicity or attempt to prove corporate responsibility that is sometimes associated with such endeavours.”

I asked Jennifer why Kevin had gone for Hand in Hand.

“He just seemed to be very taken by our work and thought that it appeared overall to be sensible and useful on several levels.  He told me that he has tDonedeal picwo young children himself and that he found it impossible to imagine what our families go through.  In fact he had asked his wife, who is studying full-time, what would be the practical help that she would find of most benefit to her in such an awful situation and she replied that ‘if the house was just kept clean, that would mean everything’.

“It was encouraging to feel that our important work in the area of hygiene had struck a chord.

“And what a joy it was to meet him.  He was so clearly proud to be showing me around; and the work surroundings are clearly designed to make their team feel at home and cared for.  There is such a feeling of positivity to the place and the staff of 38 seemed to be the happiest and most content work group I’ve ever come across.

“I’m sure that I speak not only for Hand in Hand but for all the families that we support when I send out our heartfelt thanks to everyone atDoneDeal.”

Charley Brady for Hand in Hand