Cwmbran volunteers to give up Christmas to cook lunch for homeless

FOR kind-hearted volunteers Tony and Diane O’Neill, cooking the Christmas dinner will have a different meaning this year as homeless and lonely people in Cwmbran will be their guests.

Mr and Mrs O’Neill, 64 and 61, first came up with the idea after visiting a homeless centre in Cardiff and hearing of a similar initiative.

With the help and support of family and friends they will be preparing and serving food to people who arrive at Cwmbran Community Centre tomorrow.

“It really is for anyone who is homeless or on their own this Christmas,” said Mrs O’Neill.

“Whether people want to join us for some company or food that’s fine.

“We’ve had a good response so far and had a lot of money and food donated from various people.

“Our children have moved out now so we thought this is a good way of giving something back.

“We’ve seen people who are homeless in the past and it’s really touching so we thought that this would be something great and very different to our normal Christmas Days.

“When we told our friends and family they were all eager to help which is really overwhelming.”

The tasty treats and drinks have been collected through numerous food donations.

In addition, cash donations that have also been used to buy food items.

“The donations we’ve had recently have been great,” added Mrs O’Neill.

“One man gave us £80 of Tesco vouchers which was just fantastic.”

The lunch will be served at the community centre, which Mrs O’Neill saved last year by setting up a committee to fight plans to close its doors.

The volunteers will be there from 8am, with lunch being served at noon and then at various points throughout the day, depending on how many people turn up.

Joanne Periam, a friend of Mrs O’Neill, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic what they’re doing.

“It’s giving them a free hot meal but most of all it’s giving them something to look forward to and some company on what can be a lonely day.

“What they’re doing is a fantastic gesture and it should be a fantastic day.”

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