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Founder's delight as fund to feed hero workers hits €550k

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Cian O’Flaherty helped found Feed The Heroes, which delivers food to healthcare workers

Cian O’Flaherty helped found Feed The Heroes, which delivers food to healthcare workers

�INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Cian O’Flaherty helped found Feed The Heroes, which delivers food to healthcare workers

A group set up to help feed frontline workers battling coronavirus has hit more than €550,000 in donations.

Feed The Heroes announced the milestone as it said more than 18,500 meals have been delivered nationwide.

"We have been completely blown away by the response of the Irish people," said Cian O'Flaherty, who founded the group as the first cases of the virus arrived on these shores.

He revealed how the generosity of Irish people has seen the amount raised vastly exceed the goal when he and Tad McAllister set it up on March 15.

Solidarity

"They have transformed what began as an ambition to raise €1,000 to buy a few meals into a national operation that to date has delivered more than 18,500 meals to critical frontline workers nationwide," he said.

More than 11,300 Irish people have contributed to Feed The Heroes, from a seven-year-old donating €5 of their pocket money to a €20,000 donation from Ireland international and Everton star Seamus Coleman.

Coleman posted a message of solidarity, shared on social media.

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Food on its way to Feed the Heroes

Food on its way to Feed the Heroes

Food on its way to Feed the Heroes

"It is a tough time for all of us at the moment, for all Irish people, for all people around the world, but speaking for Irish people, I know we are a very proud nation," he said.

"We stick together, we work hard for each other and though I know it's a tough time at the minute, we will get through this. Stay positive and keep fighting."

Mr O'Flaherty, who has a tech start-up business in Dun Laoghaire, said the idea came to him when he saw a tweet that a takeaway had been delivered to the Mater Hospital.

He believes the massive response from people is a result of wanting to do something to help, while being stuck at home.

"I suppose there's a feeling of powerlessness. We come from a generation where everything we want is at our fingertips and then comes along a virus that we can do nothing to stop," he said.

"Also, every one of us has friends or family involved in the frontline, we see how they work tirelessly at great risk to themselves and how they've doubled down on that work.

"Every single euro makes a difference and we take the responsibility entrusted to us by all our donors very seriously.

"We now have 20 volunteers co-ordinating our efforts, along with an advisory board to ensure we are operating to the highest corporate governance principles.

"Our mission is simple - to get food to Ireland's critical frontline workers - and our intention now is to continue to grow the fund to enable us to support Ireland's frontline heroes for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency."

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Hard-working staff in St James' Hospital with Feed the Heroes helpers

Hard-working staff in St James' Hospital with Feed the Heroes helpers

Hard-working staff in St James' Hospital with Feed the Heroes helpers

He said the meals have been greatly appreciated by those who receive them.

"Not just for the food itself, but also for what it represents - a symbol of our solidarity with and gratitude to those combating Ireland's biggest ever public health emergency," he said.

The organisation links with restaurants, takeaways, caterers and commercial kitchens to prepare and deliver meals and co-ordinates with frontline teams to ensure they get where they are needed.

So far, meals have been delivered to staff at Covid-19 testing centres, HSE contact tracing, the National Ambulance Service and the Fire Brigade, plus hospital workers.

Volunteers

The group now has a team of 20 volunteers and an advisory board.

Each meal costs around €7 to prepare and deliver.

Bigger operators have been refusing to take payment for orders, delivering for free and asking that the group use smaller, more vulnerable businesses.

Feed The Heroes' GoFundMe page can be accessed through feedtheheroes.com.

For corporate donations, contact corporatedonations@feedtheheroes.com.