Penny Dinners co-ordinator to travel with convoy bringing aid to Ukrainian refugees next week

Humanitarian aid for Ukraine will depart from Cork next Wednesday
Penny Dinners co-ordinator to travel with convoy bringing aid to Ukrainian refugees next week

Caitriona Twomey pictured on Gravel Lane across from Penny Dinners, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

A Cork charity initiative is asking the public to support an appeal to help bring humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees.

Cork Humanitarian Aid Ireland, which is made up of volunteers from local charities Cork Missing Persons Search and Recovery (CCMPSAR) and Cork Penny Dinners, is working with a Cork-based Redemptorist priest to bring a convoy of humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Caitriona Twomey, who is well-known as the co-ordinator of Cork Penny Dinners, said the volunteers hoped to bring four full vans to Poland next week, and she added they were all travelling in a personal capacity, and were paying their own way.

“It’s very important that every penny people donate goes directly to help people on the ground who are living in fear and uncertainty,” Ms Twomey said, adding that for her it was a chance to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the late Breda Lynch, who had delivered humanitarian aid to Kosovo two decades ago.

Fr Gerry O’Connor, who works with Scala Redemptorist Youth Ministry in Blackrock, told The Echo he had been in contact with Redemptorist priests in Ukraine and in Poland, and they will help distribute the aid when it arrives.

He said they had told him refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine had been very moved to hear that people in Cork wanted to help.

“When I have shared the news that a group called Cork Humanitarian Aid Ireland are planning to travel, they just have a wonderful feeling of being less isolated, and they are deeply appreciative,” Fr O’Connor said.

“When you're caught up in a situation of isolation, a situation of fear and terror, the sense that there are people outside who are on your side that are trying to help you, it's really, really reassuring.” 

Fr O’Connor said he knew people in Cork want to help, and he said donations of essentials such as tea, coffee, alcohol swabs, baby food, female hygiene products, warm clothing, thermal underwear and non-perishable goods would make a real difference to people in desperate situations.

Chris O’Donovan, treasurer of CCMPSAR said the charities plan to leave Cork on Wednesday next and bring humanitarian aid to people desperately in need of help.

“Right now there are a million refugees displaced from Ukraine, and by the end of next week it will be multiples of that, so we want to get food and warm clothing to people living in their cars,” Mr O’Donovan said.

“These are people who had to flee their homes with the shirts on their backs, and the people of Cork can make a real difference in helping them.” 

Caitriona Twomey thanked the Catholic Bishop of Cork, Bishop Fintan Gavin, who has opened the visitor centre at the Visitor Centre at the North Cathedral as a drop-off point and storage depot for donations to Cork Humanitarian Aid Ireland, and she added that anyone wishing to make a contribution is asked to visit CCMPSAR’s or Penny Dinners’ Facebook pages.

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