Supporting our frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19 is top of everyone’s list and none more so than for Calvin James Sweeney and his brother Andy.
The Blanchardstown siblings are renowned for their charity work with SCOOP and countless other projects.
They’ve been supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) already to several nursing homes, hospitals and direct provision centres in the greater Dublin area.
Deliveries of masks, visors, gloves, sanitisers and gels have been sent out locally and the pair are also raising funds for their projects abroad helping refugees living in camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Their next project is making protective gowns for Irish frontline workers.
“We will make small, medium and large sizes,” said Andy “And prisoners in Mountjoy will help to create the gowns, which eventually will be made to a customised size to fit everyone”.
It was during his travels in Cambodia years ago that Andy decided to start the charity as a result of the the poverty and child abuse he witnessed.
“Children sold into prostitution, young children forced to beg naked on the streets, and even children deliberately deformed or maimed to be used as beggars,” he describes.
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Scoop Foundation was founded in 2009 to raise money for projects in India and Cambodia.
Andy was adamant it would be a charity with aid going straight to where it was needed, rather than being diluted via high salaried CEOs or paid charity staff.
Brother Calvin James joined on a part-time basis but now works full time with the charity. Their late mother Gaye, who died in 2011 of cancer, has been a huge influence on their lives and also derived the name, SCOOP: Saving Children Out Of Poverty.
“Mum was a nurse by profession,” said Andy. “If she were alive now, even at 70, she’d be in the thick of support work, she wouldn’t have allowed age to rule her out of aiding the frontline workers.”
Ongoing work abroad
They continue their work with SCOOP aiding projects in Cambodia and India, but also launched timely campaigns including ‘Syria’s Vibes’ and ‘Yemenade’, along with ‘StreetSmart’ which helps to support essential services to the homeless in Dublin.
As Syrian refugees were risking their lives to get to Europe, Calvin elected to be smuggled into Syria in 2015 at the height of war there. Andy and the extended family feared the worst when they hadn’t heard from him for three weeks.
Andy revealed: “He was holed up with no WiFi or access to communications, and he was right in the thick of the fighting.
“In fact, he was only a block away from a truck suicide bomb mission – he saw it happen and the explosion threw him across the room! He ended up on the news and only then did we realise he was safe, thank God”.
For now, they turn their attention to the online art auction on May 23 and 24. It features a wide range of fine art and street artists from all around the country.
“There will be a fully live and online auction, where supporters can see the artworks, bid from their computers in real time and have the artworks delivered to their front door,” said Andy.
“There’s already huge interest in a print by Maser and a work by popular street artist, Aches. Also on board are Leah Hewson, Subset, Kate Beagan, Shane Sutton, Duda, Annie Atkins, Salvatore of Lucan, Emmalene Blake aka ESTR, Peter Doyle, Joby Hickey, ADW, Colm MacAthlaoich and Adrienne M.”
He concluded: “Like every other charities, a lot of our plans for the coming year have been thrown up in the air, but we pride ourselves on thinking outside the box and are rolling with the punches.
“Our annual art auction will go ahead but fully online, and we will continue trying to help those who are hurting or in need, through no fault of their own”.
Check out the live art auction at www.scoopfoundation.org