This past week I had the opportunity to ride along on the first Midnight Run of the year. According to the Midnight Run website “Midnight Run is a volunteer organization dedicated to finding common ground between the housed and the homeless. “ The organization coordinates more than 1,000 “runs” a year with volunteers from synagogues, churches, schools, and other civic groups. The Blind Brook High School Midnight Run volunteers conduct two runs each year .
Our first run was an amazing experience for me! Our students’ solicited clothing, shoes, toiletries, food, blankets and monetary donations from the community. They spent hours organizing the collected items and carefully staged the caravan of cars that would carry the goods to the city.
Mr. Beatty, the club advisor, rolled up with his impressive pick-up truck that became the canteen from which hot coffee, water, sandwiches and snacks were distributed. Mr. Kratochvil, a parent volunteer, drove the van that distributed male clothing, blankets, scarves and gloves to the needy. Mr. Mak, another parent volunteer, drove the SUV that housed the toiletries while Mr. Carmona carried the extra supplies that overflowed from the other vehicles. I maintained the women’s clothing and accessories in my car. Since I was a rookie, I was given this soft assignment as I was told “Women rarely appear at the runs”. This was not the case on Friday night! November 7th was chilly with brisk winds whipping through the streets of New York. The homeless were out hoping to score something warm to protect them from the increasingly hostile elements.
We had five assigned stops – all on the west side between 41st and 60th. The clients knew we were coming and appeared pleased that we were on time. Seems there is a network that communicates the locations and times of stops so we were greeted by the homeless at every site. We ended our “run” with a visit to Grand Central. The usually bustling terminal is eerily quiet at 2:00AM when the only sounds are the voices of the police as they usher the homeless from the shelter of the iconic station. People were extremely appreciative as they exited to the cold street and were greeted with bags of food to carry them through the night.
I wish every student at BBHS could have the opportunity to experience what we did that cold November evening. The organization acknowledges that, “The late-night relief efforts create a forum for trust, sharing, understanding and affection. The human exchange, rather than the exchange of goods, is the essence of the Midnight Run mission.” I was so proud of our students as they chatted with the homeless while searching through the boxes to find size 42 pants or a feminine sweater, or size 9 boots. We listened to their stories, learned of their former lives and dreams, and even listened to several opera arias. We hugged and were hugged as we experienced the humanity of people we may have otherwise marginalized. What an incredible life lesson for our students and me as well!
Midnight Run is just one of the many active clubs at BBHS. You will be hearing more about the incredible service our students perform daily without glory or extrinsic reward as our newsletter series continues through the year.