Selfless owners Lisa Donaghy and Anthony Briody even sent bags of donated presents and vouchers home to families who couldn’t make the occasion.
The kindhearted owner of a play centre which opened its doors on Christmas Day to homeless families says she got very emotional when little kids thanked her for giving them a proper festive dinner.
Selfless owners Lisa Donaghy and Anthony Briody, from the Ark Playcentre at Pudden Hill in Garristown, Co Meath, even sent bags of donated presents and vouchers home to families who couldn’t make the occasion because their children got sick at the last minute.
The centre extended an open invitation to homeless families for a full three-course Christmas dinner and a few hours’ play for the children on Christmas Day.
Dozens of local businesses, chefs and even schools rallied to provide vouchers, presents and food for the day and up to 15 volunteers generously gave up their own Christmas plans to help out at the dinner.
Some of the volunteers who helped on the day
Mum of two Lisa said: “It was an amazing day. We had about 60 people altogether with kids ranging from eight week to 12 years old.
“Some families cancelled last minute because their children were sick but we made sure to deliver bags of presents and vouchers, which we had for all families, to them as well.
“It was very relaxed day and everyone enjoyed soup, turkey and ham and a medley of desserts and treats. The kids loved playing at the centre too.
“The families came from emergency accommodation from all over Meath and Louth and a few from a Dublin hotel and all were referred to us by Tusla or Springboard.
“Little kids were coming up to me all the time thanking me for inviting them. I got quite emotional. And the bus drivers from Michael Murray & Sons in Duleek said all the kids were so excited at the thoughts of just having a proper Christmas dinner and to get out of their hotel room for a few hours.
The Ark Playcentre at Pudden Hill in Garristown, Co Meath
“Everyone seemed to have a good time and I’d like to thank everyone who came and absolutely everyone who rang offering their services, to those who donated presents, food and voucher and to local chefs who offered to cook the food.
“Even local classical trained singer Faustina O’Sullivan arrived to sing for us all.
“We are a play centre and love to see kids smiling but we are normally closed on Christmas day. We are always hearing about kids and families who are in hotel rooms and on the streets so it was just an idea that really worked out.
“It just shows what people can do and how good communities are in helping. It’s too far away yet but I think we will do the same next Christmas Day,” she added.
Source : Irish Mirror