Woman transforms home into Christmas wonderland for charity

Joanne Whelan is raising funds for a school in Dublin which provides for children with autism.

Christmas 2020
Christmas 2020

The mother of a young boy who has autism has transformed her Dublin home into a Christmas wonderland to raise money for charity.

Joanne Whelan spent weeks decorating her Donaghmede home and garden with lights, reindeer installations, giant snowmen and various inflatable Father Christmases.

Ms Whelan has been collecting the eye-catching festive items – which cover the front garden at her home – for more than four years.

She is raising funds for Abacas School in Kilbarrack, which provides for children with autism.

She is also raising money for Dublin-based St Michael’s House, which offers a range of services and support for people with learning difficulties.

Christmas 2020
Joanne Whelan spent weeks decorating her home and garden (Brian Lawless/PA)

Her son Alex was severely impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions earlier this year.

“I started decorating the house years and years ago and it has built up gradually over time,” Ms Whelan said.

“A lot of neighbours have donated items they didn’t want anymore. The more I got, the more I wanted, so I kept doing it.

“Then a few years ago, someone suggested that I do it for charity, and with my son being autistic I thought I would do something for the school.”

Decorations in the front garden at Ms Whelan's Donaghmede house
The decorations cover the front garden outside Ms Whelan’s Donaghmede home (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There’s a box on the front gate so people can put the money in and donate something to the school,” she said.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger every year as more people are donating and I never say no to lights or Santy.

“I’ve one man that comes every year from Clondalkin with his grandkids – people come from everywhere.

“I just push it out on social media and hope that people come, as I want to bring some joy to them.”

She continued: “We are hoping to see our family members from Wexford this Christmas. I hope that it’s a nice day and no-one is sick.

“Christmas is much more important this year – it’s not what you want for Christmas, it’s what you have.

“I want to feel happy and normal even for the one day as it has been a tough and terrible year.”

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