TheAmerican Ireland Fund has announced a donation of $250,000 to help victims ofHurricane Sandyin the hardest-hit storm areas.

The donation is an acknowledgement of the massive help given to Ireland by U.S. philanthropists and a return gesture by the AIF.

The funding is already being used to support the three Irish centers in New York and their extensive volunteer efforts in Rockaway Beach and other locations.

"We understand the duty to give back in the U.S. to help those in need after the hurricane," Kieran McLoughlin, President of The American Ireland Fund said. "We are delighted with the incredible response."

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He also told an Irish audience that Irish donations to the Ireland Funds are increasing despite the economic turndown.

McLoughlin was speaking at the US Ambassador's residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin where the branch of the Ireland Fund Young Leader's initiative had gathered.

McLoughlin told the Young Leaders that they were the “the new wave of philanthropy in this country”.

“It’s very easy to turn in on oneself and not be concerned about need elsewhere . . . you’ve risen above that.”

Famed rugby player Brian O’Driscoll said the work of the  Young Leaders gave massive hope for the future. “It’s easy to lead when the going is good . . . but I think it’s when your back is against the wall that the true leader steps up and gives guidance.”