Belvo boys beat the target
The Belvedere students’ SleepOut 22 to raise money for the homeless raised a record sum of €315,000, the highest amount ever generated since the SleepOuts began almost 40 years ago.
Media and sports celebrities joined the public in supporting the students to raise the money by sleeping out and fasting over three days just before Christmas. There was sustained applause and cheering when the figure was called out at the annual Christmas Eve Mass which heralds the end of the SleepOut.
The SleepOut 22 began with a Mass, also in the college, and celebrated by veteran homelessness campaigner Peter McVerry SJ. Then it was off to the streets with the students and some of the college staff to continue their fundraising.
Student organiser Cian O’Byrne admitted that sleeping out was a harsh taste of the reality that many homeless people have to suffer. “Many of the lads were shocked by how tough it was, and it left us exhausted on Christmas Day but also more grateful for what we actually have. It was our privilege to be able to do what we could for homelessness in Ireland.”
He said that all those involved went beyond what was asked of them to bring in that huge amount of money. The college band came down and played for people, another student gave haircuts for free, there was carol signing with the college choir, and all sorts of impromptu happenings.
Among the celebrities lending their support were Ryan Tubridy, Joe Duffy, and Brendan O’ Carroll. Sporting stalwarts including Johnny Sexton, Eoin Muchan, Brian Fenton, and many more all rallied around.
Asked how he felt about the total they finally raised Cian O’Byrne commented, “We shook buckets outside Copper Face Jacks until 4 am both mornings. There was an overwhelming sense of hard work paying off. And we were all absolutely blown away by the generosity of the Irish public showing true Christmas spirit in the amounts they generously donated.”
In their promotion of the event, Cian O’Byrne stated that since 2022 was a record year for homelessness figures they wanted to raise a record-breaking sum for charities working in the field. The figure they wanted to top was the €225,000 total raised in 2017 so this year the students wanted to top that figure and they did so in some style.
Cian, the grandson of the legendary broadcaster, the late Gay Byrne, raised the profile of this year’s SleepOut considerably with the interviews he gave promoting the fundraiser on a wide variety of media outlets.
Even before the two-day SleepOut on O’Connell St and College Green (22-24 December), and for the first time, Transition Year students joined in the fundraising, sleeping out overnight and tentless, in their gardens on some freezing nights in December. By the time the buckets were being rattled on the streets they had already raised almost €100,000,
Finally, when asked about any stand-out moments during the whole event Cian responded, “The whole experience could be called a standout moment.”