A football team in Dublin 8 are rallying around to collect as many toys as possible for their annual Christmas appeal, inspired by the daughter of one of their coaches.

Crumlin United became involved with Ellie’s Christmas appeal three years ago, after little Ellie became quite ill after her birth, almost missing her first visit from Santa at home as she recovered in Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Elaine Darcy, Ellie’s mum, says that the appeal came about after her oldest son, Alex, was concerned about Ellie and the other children on the ward not making it home for Christmas.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Elaine said: “Ellie was born in 2014, and she had a serious heart condition and only one kidney and needed open heart surgery at just four months old.

“Things didn’t go to plan, so she ended up spending some time on life support in the ICU.
“It was an extremely tough time for us, for me and my partner, Shane, and our two other little boys, Alex and Alfie.

“We didn’t know if Ellie would pull through, and thank God, now four years later she’s just started Junior Infants.

“Alex, who was six at the time, was so concerned about whether she’d get to make it home for her first visit from Santa.

“Luckily, Ellie was home just in time for her first Christmas, but we decided that we wanted to help the other children who had to stay on the ward.

“We wanted to help bring Santa to them, to bring some Christmas spirit. Crumlin United were a big help to us, and they’ve helped us grow the campaign year on year.

“Their members donate so much to the Ellie’s Christmas Heart Appeal, and then they even came up with the idea of having a family fun day where proceeds go to the hospital as well.”

Presents are left under the tree in Crumlin United’s canteen, before being brought to Crumlin. This year, Ashleaf Shopping Centre are also allowing them to collect toys from underneath their Christmas tree, sharing the space with the St Vincent de Paul shoebox appeal.

Ellie’s school, Assumption Primary School, are also setting up a tree in the school where children and their parents can donate. Crumlin United will also be holding a Family
Fun Day at their Pearse Park pitches on December 8th.

Elaine said: “It’ll be running until just before Christmas week, and then Santa Claus will visit the ward just before Christmas to give all the boys and girls their presents. It’s incredible to see their little faces light up.

“A former referee from the Dublin District Schoolboy league, Eddie Magill, is kindly helping us out, with Ellie, Alex and Alfie and some other kids going along too as his helpers.

“It makes us so proud to see the community coming together to help Ellie’s Christmas Heart Appeal, and to help bring a little bit of Christmas magic to the wonderful children and staff of Our Lady’s.

“We really hope it will continue with everyone’s help to get bigger every year.”