Play centre throws open doors to homeless kids on Christmas
The big-hearted staff of a play centre in Meath are opening its doors on Christmas Day and offering festive dinner to children staying in emergency accommodation.
Lisa Donaghy and Anthony Briody, from the Ark Playcentre at Pudden Hill in Garristown, Co Meath, are inviting homeless families to the centre for a full three-course Christmas Day dinner and a few hours' play on December 25.
The meal is being kindly donated by other local businesses who have given their full support to the idea.
Lisa was hoping to keep the kind act private, but a shout-out for transport left her "mortified" when the goodwill gesture went viral across social media
"It was just an idea we had during the summer and many of our staff have jumped on board and offered to volunteer, as well as many of our family and friends," said Lisa.
"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.
"Living in a hotel room is difficult on any day, but trying to get a Christmas dinner for your children must be a nightmare in such a confined space.
"Here, the children can let off steam in the centre while the parents relax for a few hours."
Lisa added: "The community here have been amazing and are constantly on the phone to see if they can help.
"Tribe restaurant in Duleek have kindly agreed to provide and cook the turkeys and hams, Meade potatoes have given all the vegetables, while Millbrook foods and Value centre in Navan are donating desserts, minerals and treats.
"Only last night, I got a call from Michael Murray and Sons in Duleek who have offered the transport needed to get people here and back.
"We have 100 seats available, and already families are coming from Meath and Louth, including Drogheda, Dundalk and Duleek.
"I would welcome anyone who needs a bit of a break on this day to ring me as soon as possible. We will guarantee total privacy and respect to the families and their children.
"I just need to know numbers so I can organise the food, so if anyone would like to come, please ring me on 087 391 0807."