by Joe Hadzovic
I was always told that giving to the poor was an essential part of being a Christian. Knowing this, it would make sense for me to give to people on the street who were begging for money. Have you ever walked by and dropped a dollar in a cup or given to someone in need? I thought that this was always enough. On Feb. 27, my friends I went beyond just putting a dollar in someone’s cup.
The group of us from BCYM (Bensonhurst Cluster Youth Ministry) began the night by making 50 peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. We put each sandwich into a bag which had a mix of other foods. Our first task was simple and comfortable. Then the volunteers from “Midnight Run” explained the rules for the night. They told us we would be stopping at different locations in Manhattan. Each of us was given a specific task, which ranged from distributing food and hot chocolate to handing out deodorant and blankets. The group was calm and relaxed and had an upbeat attitude. We grabbed the supplies, hopped in the van and drove over to Manhattan.
In Manhattan, the first thing we noticed was how cold it was. Nevertheless, we all readied our stations and slowly people started coming, one by one. That’s when the feeling of the group started to change. A more serious and humbling feeling came over us. We all began to do our jobs. As we moved to each stop, the volunteers informed us that the crowds were not as big, perhaps due to the cold. However, the closer we came to midtown, the larger the crowds became. The people who approached us were all of different backgrounds and conditions. There was one old man who had no coat and wore only a sweater. Another man had a suit jacket and tie but shoes with holes in them. No one was the same. Some people talked to us, and others just left without saying a word. Some people in the car talked about how they felt awkward.
One stop involved getting out of the car and going to people who had already set up their “beds” for the night. We asked what they needed and then ran back to the van to get the supplies. One person asked for a blanket. When I got back, my friend and I actually put the blanket on the person. I had given to people who needy before, but I had never given to them what they actually needed. A dollar could never amount to what putting that blanket on did.
Our last stop was the Port Authority. It was close to midnight. We walked in the hallways and saw a community of 25 people, all in need. We grabbed whatever we had left and gave it out. In 30 minutes, we ran out of food and blankets.
These people we were helping took care of each other. None of the homeless were family, or even friends, but they helped take care of each other. They were a church of people. I realized that if I want to help people I need to give of myself. When we give of ourselves, we give love and hope.[hr] The Midnight Run is coordinated with Paul Morisi in the Office of Faith Formation. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.