Trócaire has announced that donations from their Lenten box appeal can be returned.

In early April, the charity urged the public to retain their Trócaire box collections due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

It is the first time in the history of the organisation that it has had to make such a request.

The lenten box appeal is the charity's biggest fundraising campaign, accounting for 60% of its funding.

It said that people can return now their donations, which CEO Caoimhe de Barra said may seem like small change to people who put their coins in the boxes during lent, but will make a huge difference to Trócaire.

"They are our core income and three million people around the world rely on us for support and it's the lenten donations that help us provide them with help", she said.

Supporters have been asked to count or estimate what is in their boxes and donate the equivalent amount online, over the phone or via post.

Many parishes have their own arrangements in place for collecting Trócaire boxes and people are being urged to contact their local parish centre to see if it is possible to return the donation box within social distancing guidelines.

St Cronin's Church in Swords, Co Dublin, said that from next weekend on there will be a 'drive thru' return option in the car park outside the church. 

Parish priest Fr Paul Thornton said it will be an opportunity for households with children, who received the boxes through their schools and communities, to drive and drop them outside the church.

The annual collection worth about €5m helps up to a million households, families and individuals worldwide. 

Ms de Barra said if the money is not returned the charity will be unable to help those in need more than ever because they are facing a health crisis as well as all of the other issues they previously had.

There are now nearly 100,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa alone where Trócaire does much of its work. 

For those who are unable to return the boxes they can donate the equivalent money online or by post to Trócaire, Freepost, Maynooth, Co Kildare or Trócaire, King Street, Belfast.