Northern Ieland charities and community groups have shared out almost £200,000 raised by Belfast’s Black Santa before Christmas.
The money was handed over at the annual Good Samaritans’ service in St Anne’s cathedral yesterday.
The 2013 sit-out by Black Santa, Dean of Belfast the Rev John Mann, and his clerical team on the steps of St Anne’s cathedral raised £196,000, more than £4,000 more than in 2012.
Special guests at yesterday’s cheque presentations to 206 local organisations were the Rev Canon Dr Heather Morris, President of the Methodist
The organisations represented children, young people, families, community, health and people overseas.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 cathedral lergy 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 began.
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.”