Helping hand | 

Dublin woman who makes 65 lasagnes a week for homeless says they are filled ‘with love’

Monica Donnam (72) say she makes sure the dishes are full of vitamins for those who need them.

Monica Donnam, who volunteers for A Lending Hand, with her friend Becki


A Dublin woman who makes 65 lasagnes a week for homeless people, says they are filled “with love”.

Monica Donnam (72), from Clonshaugh, spends her Thursdays prepping meat and vegetables as part of the homemade meals before giving them to the charity A Lending Hand on Fridays.

“About five years ago, I saw A Lending Hand were looking for donations. I had a pile of wool here and I decided to knit beanies for them,” Monica said.

“I brought them down and I saw food in the hall, and I asked if they took food as well. I asked if I could help and cook whatever I can.

“I make lasagnes in big roasting dishes. My friends realised what I was doing, so they’d throw me the odd €20 for the food.

“I started doing 40 individual ones, then it went up to 65, that’s the maximum I could do in my kitchen.”

A lot of thought goes into the process too, as Monica makes sure the dishes are full of vitamins for those who need them.

“Different places donate and we’ve an account in the butchers where the money goes, and I can pick up the meat.

“A Tesco branch donates pasta sauce and someone else donates the foil trays. People are very good, and it all helps.

“I get the vegetables in Aldi, and I try to put in as much as possible, they need the nourishment. I wouldn’t give people what I wouldn’t eat myself. They’re made with love.

“I finely cut the veg and and it gives it loads of flavour. They get carrots, onions, peppers, mushrooms and I prep it all on Thursday.

“It goes into the oven on Friday, and I bring it down to the girls to deliver. It’s nice to have something like this to focus on, I like to keep positive,” she added.

Monica's homemade trays of lasagne

Monica’s cooking has got a lot of praise from those who eat it, and she has made friends for life from A Lending Hand.

“One of the guys wanted to send me a card to say thanks for the lovely food and that he looks forward to it every week. I don’t be looking for that, but it’s nice to hear,” she said.

“Society looks down on these people, but they’re human beings. They’re the same as us and they’re just having hard times.

“A lot of these people have been in care, and they’re thrown out, they’ve no basic knowledge of how to budget or anything.

“A Lending Hand does everything they can for them. It’s not just feeding them and giving them clothes, it’s helping them with their CVs, helping them prepare for interviews.

“Some of the people they’ve helped throughout the years have come back to help.

“We did a fundraiser for A Lending Hand. We had great craic; I shaved my head for it. We got around €6,000 and went into Penneys too for bits. The money has gone a long way.

“My husband would give someone a few euro outside a shop, but once I started doing this, he’d stop to talk to them. It’s a knock-on effect.”

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