AENGUS O’Coileáin’s latest foray into fundraising resulted in the impromptu sale of his sweets to raise money for people in Turkey and Syria.
Aengus, aged six, had been listening to news about people displaced by the earthquake, so he got up – without a word to anyone – made a sign, gathered up what goodies he had in the house, and took his stool onto the street outside his home at Tawnies Crescent, Clonakilty.
Naturally enough his mother, Marie Hayes Collins, followed him and was humbled to see such goodness in action.
‘He’d actually done something similar last year when, at the age of five, he set up a lemonade stand to raise money for Cork Penny Dinners,’ she said.
Some kind neighbours made impulse purchases, and were generous when paying for their chocolates and sweets, while others were happy to leave a donation in the bowl. Someone took a snap and sent it to The Southern Star. ‘He doesn’t like fuss,’ said his mother, ‘so he’ll be mortified if this appears in the paper, but we – my mother, Vera, and I – are very proud of him.’ Marie, who was widowed six years ago, believes ‘children teach us to be grateful.’
She said Aengus does respond when he hears harsh news, but she tries to emphasise the positives, like the help people and agencies are giving.
Living in a good neighbourhood, and going to a good school, Scoil na mBuachaillí in Clonakilty, has sharpened the boy’s instincts, and the instincts of the other children on his estate as well.
Aengus, who is in senior infants, happily added the money he had raised to a cake sale fundraiser at the school.
The fact that he did a bit of baking for that event – buns and little meringue cups – was to be expected of this sweet boy.
Marie says his grandmother, Vera, is a big influence on him, but so, too, was his late grandfather Michael Hayes, who was always helping people. ‘My mother knows a lot of people in the town and she never passes a raffle stall,’ said Marie. ‘One year, she won seven turkeys and shared them with the neighbours. It’s things like that,’ she said, ‘that are teaching Aengus to be kind.’