A Fermoy homelessness action group that does a weekly soup run to Cork city centre, has launched a Christmas appeal to people in the Fermoy area.
Fermoy Tuesday Night Homeless Run said they're looking for clothes, underwear, toiletries and other non-perishables to be given out as gifts to those facing the harshest months while sleeping rough in Cork City.
Each Tuesday evening from 7pm til 9pm, the group sets up tables outside Brown Thomas on Patrick Street, where they provide hot meals, sandwiches and drinks to those in need, as well as items like sleeping bags, toothpaste and other toiletries, along with items of clothing.
Volunteer Noreen Cody said that the response in Fermoy was "fantastic" and that people are very keen to donate. Rathcormac Scouts, 82nd Cork, have already jumped aboard the appeal and have made up 70 gift bags for distribution.
Noreen, from Fermoy, said that it's well-known that winter is the most difficult time of year for homeless people who sleep rough, and as the weather worsens, it becomes more and more dangerous.
"We set up three tables, one with a hot meal, one with sandwiches and drinks, and one with clothes, socks and sleeping bags," she said. "People who come to us now are heading straight to the third table and rummaging for clothes: they need the extra layers, because the weather is getting colder."
Noreen slammed remarks made by Eileen Gleeson of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive that were reported in the media last week. Ms Gleeson stated that "ad hoc" groups like Fermoy Tuesday Night Homeless Run handing out provisions to rough sleepers was "not helpful", while she was addressing Dublin City Council's policing committee.
"I thought what she said was a disgrace," Noreen said. "We fed around 70 homeless people last Tuesday. The doorways on Patrick St are chockablock. Even though groups like Penny Dinners also do great work, for some it might be the only hot meal they'll get in a week."
Sandra Scannell, the owner of Fit Republic gym and fitness centre on Richmond Hill in Fermoy, has volunteered to accept donations of non-perishables for the action group, so members of the public can bring their donations there.
The action group's last run before Christmas will be on December 19th, when they hope to distribute the proceeds of the appeal.
The group are also seeking a storage unit or shed to store and sort donations, preferably in the Fermoy area. All offers would be greatly appreciated.