Diners are unable to eat in the Penny Dinners soup kitchen in Cork on Christmas Day but the “The Little Miracle on Hanover Street” will see off the challenge of Covid with the charity still feeding 700 people on Saturday.
The powerhouse behind Penny Dinners, Caitriona Twomey, will run a Christmas dinner service from outside the soup kitchen whilst meals will also be delivered to those in need throughout the city and county.
The dinner has been donated by the nearby River Lee Hotel with turkey, ham and all the trimmings on offer today. The High Hopes choir will be singing alongside Hank Wedel and a Christmas tree has been moved on to the street. Santa Claus is also coming in from Kent Station on the “Polar Express”.
Ms Twomey says that the support of the people of Cork and further afield is “absolutely astounding”.
“It is what keeps us going so we are in a position to help others. It is a tough time all around. Demand is ferocious. People in the hospitality and taxi trades etc are pinned to their collar.
Ordinary hardworking people are now in dire straights so we are appealing to the Government to get this right. This shouldn’t be happening.
Mental health is huge and has gone right out the window. The Government need to be addressing the conditions people are living in. Some people have no homes at all. The hotels the guesthouses the B&B’s.
All that has be looked at. The money could be spent in to homes for life for these people. We are not supposed to be a third world country but there is hunger in Ireland.”
Ms Twomey stresses that she is heartened by the support of young and old.
“We had a woman in the other day and she was 94 and she insisted on coming in herself. It is lovely to see all the same people coming back to support us. Young kids also come in.”
Over the last few days volunteers have been making hampers in the warehouse and “jeeps and cars” have been on the road distributing them.
Cork City Missing Persons, retired veterans from the Army and the Navy and gardaí have all dropped off hampers to those in need on behalf of the soup kitchen.
Ms Twomey says she is so appreciative of the “fleet of drivers” who are dropping off hot food today.
“We have a huge list and a big fleet of drivers so the dinners get to people hot. We are geared up. We are ready. Every volunteer is working around the clock. I am in awe of the whole lot of them. They go above and beyond. This year we have had to reach for the stars on this one because it has been very tough. The demand is crazy.”
The Penny Dinners service is not only about providing a meal. It gives the vulnerable and needy a warm comfortable place to eat and company to fill their often dark days on the street.
For information on how to donate go to corkpennydinners.ie.