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communion dress via Shutterstock
dresses and suits

This soup kitchen wants to make Communion easier for struggling families

Cork Penny Dinners is giving away all the gear for free.

A SOUP KITCHEN in Cork is turning its attention to fashion ahead of the busy Communion period to help families struggling to meet the costs of the expensive occasion.

Following a single request that has spiralled into a fully-fledged pop-up shop, Cork Penny Dinners plans to provide Communion suits and dresses to families unable to afford the outfits themselves.

A range of other businesses have rowed in behind them, offering to help them with everything from dry-cleaning to hair styling – all for free.

Speaking to The Anton Savage Show on Today FM, co-ordinator Caitriona Twomey said the charity usually feeds around 1,500 people per week.

“One of the families that use our service, their daughter’s making Communion later this year. The dad lost his job eight months ago, and they’re really in a bad way at the minute,” she told the programme, “I said leave it with me.”

Video / YouTube spoke to Cork Penny Dinners about their service in 2013

Within hours, a volunteer with the service had called to say she had been received two communion dresses out of the blue.

“It took off from there, people really like the idea.”

As many as 100 dresses and suits have now been donated – with 80% of the dresses being bought specially to be donated – with the event to take place next Sunday in the River Lee Hotel, which has offered a room for the shop.

Twomey said that a family could save a couple of hundred on all the necessary items.

“For some people, €20 or €30 is a lot of money,” she said, but explained that often it can be an emotional burden on families if they cannot afford to get their child kitted out for Communion.

Irish Examiner / YouTube

Twomey predicts that no one will attempt to exploit the service.

The number of people using Cork Penny Dinners, located on Little Hanover Street in Cork city, has risen dramatically over recent years.

The centre also noticed a sudden shift in the demographics attending.

It generally offers a midday meal service, and also allows people to take home food.

Twomey said this is convenient for parents who do not wish to bring their child to a soup kitchen – “We always try to protect the child.”

If you have anything to donate – in particular shoes, Twomey said – you can contact 085 120 1742

Read: Soup kitchen founder says 2014 “worst year yet” for struggling families >

More: Government criticised for scrapping Communion and Confirmation grants >

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