Two restaurants in Co Offaly are offering free dinners for the homeless on Christmas Day.
BakeHouse Cafe and Restaurant and Cafe India, both in Tullamore, will open their doors to feed the homeless or those who can’t afford dinner on December 25th.
The restaurant owners approached local man Ken Smollen, who has been active in collecting food and clothing for the homeless in recent times, with the idea and he publicised it on social media.
“It’s absolutely fantastic and I cannot believe that these two men are willing to do that,” said Mr Smollen, a former garda.
Since putting a message on Facebook, Mr Smollen said he has been inundated with offers of help and donations. Two brothers who live locally have offered to provide toys for any children who are in attendance on the day, he said.
Mr Smollen, who is chairman of the Irish Democratic Party and who distributes food in Dublin with the charity You're Not Alone, described the generosity from businesses and members of the public in Co Offaly as incredible.
BakeHouse is run by Declan Gorman and Derek Coyne. "The support from the community has been absolutely fantastic," said Mr Coyne. "This only went out 24 hours ago. I didn't expect half of this."
Mr Coyne said he did not know what kind of attendance to expect on Christmas Day, but that “anything that is left there will be distributed to Dublin or Galway to the homeless”.
Cafe India general manager Adbul Hafeez said: "It wasn't a very tough decision. I don't celebrate Christmas so I thought I might as well do something good for the community."
He pointed out that Christmas was a busy time for the restaurant and said “we make a few bob”.
Although he normally would support autism charities, as his eldest son is autistic, Mr Hafeez decided to do this for a change. “The response has been phenomenal, so many people have asked if you need a hand that they will come for a few hours for cleaning, for serving the food and that has been great,” he said.