Cork woman (92) using her time cocooning to make food hampers for the homeless

Cork woman (92) using her time cocooning to make food hampers for the homeless

Bina O'Riordan has been using her time cocooning to put together hampers for the homeless in the hope she can still make a positive impact on the outside world.

A 92-YEAR-OLD Cork woman has been using her time cocooning to put together hampers for the homeless in the hope she can still make a positive impact on the outside world.

Bina O'Riordan, who lives in Kanturk, has been a friend to the homeless since she was a young girl. She recalled how, as a child, she and her mother would welcome strangers into their home who were hungry or in search of warmth.

Unable to bare the thought of people sleeping on the streets while she cocooned, the grandmother decided to do something about it.

Since lockdown began she has been working around the clock to put together packages for those in need. 

Street Angels, an organisation helping the homeless run by Hazel Dennehy, collects and distributes her packages to rough sleepers in Cork city on a regular basis. Bina is not only a hero to her own family, she has also become like a grandmother to Cork's homeless community.

Good deeds are now considered a family tradition by the O'Riordan clan.

"My mother was very into charity," Bina said. 

"There was never a person who arrived at her door that was turned away. 

"There were a lot of people on the road who had no home to go to. 

"She didn't have a lot for herself but she did her best. Things were better in those days and much safer. Children had a lot more freedom. 

"They could be sent out for a message because you knew that nothing would happen to them. 

"My mother used to leave the door wide open when going out to town in the pony and cart. You didn't hear of crimes happening then. It was a different world. 

"You could keep to yourself back then but not now. That's why I feel so sorry for those living on the streets today."

She opened up about the homeless people who called to their door when she was just a little girl.

"I remember one woman well. I can still see her. She was in her fifties, tall and thin and with long black hair. That same woman had nothing but what was on her back. I'll never forget how serene-looking she was. If she needed clothes my mother would give them to her and make sure they were waterproof for the bad weather. She would go on her way feeling very grateful."

Bina described her current volunteering work.

"I put together sandwiches, drinks, bars crisps, whatever is needed. 

"My aim is to keep the packages as interesting and nice for people as possible. When you know in your heart that you're helping someone then you have a focus point. You get great satisfaction from doing things for those who are worse off than you. All my life I've loved helping people."

Bina has been very productive in lockdown and is in the process of penning her memoir. However, after receiving her Covid-19 vaccination this week she said she is most looking forward to getting out into nature.

"There are so many beautiful places to go in Ireland I don't know why anyone would feel they need to go abroad. What I'm most looking forward to doing though is visiting the beach."

To find out more about the charity Street Angels readers can visit their Facebook page.

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