PORTLAOISE Action to Homelessness (PATH) provided Christmas food hampers to more than 150 local families.
Chairperson of the group Irene Redmond said that donations from kind-hearted people, schools, businesses, churches and a multitude of organisations from all over the country quadrupled in the lead-up to the festive season.
“We are overwhelmed by the support that we receive from people and wish to thank everyone who supports us in any way, along with our fantastic team of volunteers.
“Unfortunately, some of the scenes that we witnessed during 2019 are like scenes from a Charles Dickens novel, but they are not … they are real.
“Women and children were sitting on cold, hard pavements relying on the kindness of strangers. People with various disabilities were trying to find a dry, safe place to sleep for the night. Young and old men and women were gathering cardboard for a bed, hoping they would be lucky enough to find an empty sheltered doorway to sleep in for the night.
“We have laughed with, cried with and shared hopes and dreams with many of our homeless friends.” she said.
Each Saturday, a 13-strong team travels to Dublin to support homeless people in two vans packed with hot food and drinks, along with essentials that include toiletries, warm clothing, underwear, socks, hats, scarves, gloves, sleeping bags and ground sheets.
The group also runs a local food cloud on Monday nights at 9.15pm and a local outreach service on Wednesday nights at 7.30pm to meet the rising demand of people living in food poverty in Laois. Both services take place in the lane behind the library at Lyster Square, Portlaoise, where PATH provides support and food to local people and to local families.
If you would like to donate to PATH, please contact 087 7744043.
Open meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every second month in Portlaoise Leisure Centre. The next meeting takes place tonight, Tuesday 7 January at 8pm. All are welcome to attend.