After last week’s Celtic Foundation bucket collection at Celtic Park, my 12-year-old, who was collecting, was amazed that someone put a £20 note in his bucket. He wanted to know why people do things like that.
There are lots of possible reasons. It’s the right thing to do, there are many in our community who are need, and who we would happily help if they were standing beside us. A lot has to do with upbringing, not everyone believes fraternal help services the common good, but for some, it’s part of their core values. More precisely, it’s part of the values they acquired when they took to do with their football club.
In the early decades of Celtic Football Club, people literally ‘clubbed’ together to build the first, and then second, Celtic Park, mostly without pay. An informal collection of labourers dug foundations and shovelled earth to create bankings. Many got involved years after Walfrid left for pastures news, but the way in which the community claimed ownership of the club, without actually owning a share, of course, gave you and me an enormously privileged heritage.
We have a back narrative which most 21st century organisations could never dream of attaining.
I know that £20 is a lot of money to put into a bucket, but this year I’ve seen many people do this, and so much more, in the name of Celtic.
A year ago the CQN community told Mary’s Meals that we would build a school kitchen for them in Malawi. We booked the Kerrydale Suite for CQ10 and hoped we could sell more than 30 tickets. The night was sold-out and you raised over £23,000. Before the night was finished the two guys from Mary’s Meals knew they had enough money to build three school kitchens!
The money was soon put to action, all three kitchens were completed by May. Each day over 2000 primary-age children eat what is often their only meal of the day in a facility you paid for, prepared with utensils you bought.
The UN reckon Malawi is the 17th poorest country on the planet, but it is fertile for development work. 93% of the money raised by Mary’s Meals reaches the target communities. The kids being fed in CQN kitchens for the last 7 months are heavier and healthier than before. School attendance has increased by over 30%, so kids who previously had to labour for food are now getting an education instead.
They will have better life-choices as adults and more of them will be alive long enough to become adults.
The CQNers who started our charity activities nearly a decade ago are the golfers, they did so again in July, then there was the runners, the badge collectors and the many who were just touched by one story or another and stepped forward.
One of the reasons many of you should be proud of yourself is the Kano Foundation. Kano – Martin Kane – was one of the original CQNers, who got up in the middle of the night in Perth W. Australia to watch his team, and argue with his pals on here. When he suffered an enormously debilitating illness a community grew up around him, which became the Kano Foundation, and has since brought thousands of kids to see Celtic.
This week we learned Kano is seriously ill in hospital, so the seasonal cheer is tempered.
Whatever your memories of 2014 are, they will also be tempered by the challenges Wee Oscar and his family went through. I know there are people who made an enormous difference to his life who first read about him here. The stories of the work they put in will never be told, because that’s the way they want it, but they made a profound impact on the world.
2015 has a hard act to follow, but we’ve told Mary’s Meals we’ll build them another school kitchen, and we’ve just told Celtic to book the Kerrydale Suite for Friday 13th March for CQ11. It’s St Patrick’s weekend, it’s League Cup Final weekend and it’s the week of the 50th anniversary of Jock Stein taking over; it has the making of a memorable night…..
Why do people put £20 into a bucket, why do thousands give anonymously throughout the year, why do hundreds go above and beyond the call of duty? If you think Celtic is a football club, you’ve not been paying attention. It is the most powerful social movement most of us will ever become involved with.
It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of the family and humbling to see it in action.