Outreach Opportunities

Midnight Run

On Friday September 4th, a caravan left from St. John’s Church to offer food, clothes, toiletries, and some conversation to the homeless of NYC. We started the week-long preparation with Carolyn Gallaher helping us figure out how to organize the contents of our overflowing MR closet into something manageable. For everyone’s safety, all the men’s and women’s clothing from coats, sweaters, t-shirts to socks, and underwear were sorted and packed into over 250 separate labeled bags. Pants (52 more bags!) took us the most time to sort and label but sizing is very specific and there is no longer a chance to take back what doesn’t fit. While we were sorting and labeling we heard from over 14 parishioners volunteering to make a delicious variety of almost 125 lunches. The choice of a sandwich is particularly meaningful right now since other choices are limited.

Rev. Lisa, Kirk, their son Rand and a family friend went on their first run with Kirk driving the large van we borrowed from the Midnight Run organization. They managed most of the clothing. Rachael Combe, her son Theo, and a set of their friends handled the underwear and socks and handed out the 70 bags of much desired toiletries.

By the end of our scheduled stops, the clothing, water, and toiletries had been given away. With just the remaining lunches, Frank and Melissa continued to the final four “alternate” stops. At the last stop there were six people waiting and seven lunches left in the car. Sometimes things just work out. The group agreed to divvy up the final bagged lunch.

Overall, we connected with over 90 people in one evening. We were disheartened to see more women than usual and grateful to our donors that we had items specifically for them.

As always, most of the people we met were cheerful, appreciative, respectful and always interesting to talk with. We got the feeling that while food had continued to be provided, clothing and toiletries were not as available as before the pandemic.

We are grateful to everyone who helped make this Midnight Run a success.

Now our closets are virtually empty and we are already planning a winter run in early January. Please, please, please, keep your donations coming. We are always able to put out a last minute call for underwear and lunches but we won’t have shirts, sweatshirts or pants unless they are donated. In this time of uncertainty, one thing we can be sure of is that there will continue to be people in need.

With much appreciation for your continued interest.
Melissa and Nancy Pierson

*****

On Friday, June 12th, St. John’s participated in our regularly scheduled Midnight Run. Because of the corona virus, we weren’t sure we’d be going in. But, based on the experiences of other groups who had done runs, we decided at the last minute to do the run. Fortunately, except for lunches, we didn’t need to ask for donations of clothing or toiletries but used what we had in our closets. All the sorting and packing was done at the Piersons’ rather than at the church. We made bags of toiletries and prepacked clothing bags with underwear, socks and one long-sleeved and one short sleeved shirt, labeled by size. We also took in baseball caps and masks (donated by our local MasksforNY organization). Melissa and Nancy very much missed the many extra hands we were used to for this labor-intensive part of the run!

Despite being at the last minute, St. John’s responded to just one email to make over 100 lunches. Knowing we wouldn’t need this many; we offered the excess to another group going in that night that need them. They were much appreciated.

Based on advice from Midnight Run, we went in with only two cars, one family in each—Pete and Tim Bennitt and Frank and Melissa Pierson. At each stop, card tables were placed between the car and the clients so the bags could be passed across while maintaining a safe distance. The clients were already used to this new system and lined up respectfully and most wore masks.

Although the usual hot food and drinks were missing and there was no choice in the clothing (other than size), their appreciation was evident. We missed the conversations that were usually the highlights of past runs. In 6 stops, we met about 45 people including 5 women. Since we were prepared to hand out more bags, we have a good start for our next run. But our closets are now depleted of many items. Now that we know how to do a Run in this new way, we hope to participate in another run close to Labor Day. Expect to see a request for supplies later this summer, and lunches as we get close to the Run. We’ll also need teams to go into the City on the Run.

Many, many thanks to all who participated from the lunches to the past donors who had filled our closet.

Melissa Pierson