There was much work to be done before they even hit the road – making sandwiches, putting together sack suppers, packaging up personal care items, sizing and labeling clothing, and packing the vans.
For over fifteen years, RCS ninth graders have participated in the Midnight Run
. This year, the ninth graders helped to organize materials even before the Run evening. This work entailed taking inventory of clothing donated by the Upper Campus community and also coordinating the collection of toiletry items. Special thanks to the ninth grade parents who helped to make soup, hard-boiled eggs, and meat loaf (a very popular sandwich!). Thanks also to the generosity of the RCS community for donating $869 toward our jeans day/bake sale Midnight Run fundraiser; this money was used to purchase additional clothing and food needed for the sack suppers.
Two weeks prior to the Run, Dale Williams shared his unique perspective on homelessness in New York City with our ninth graders. Now Executive Director of Midnight Run, Mr. Williams spent nearly three years on the streets in the late 1980s. A product of a middle class family with a college education, Mr. Williams spoke about not knowing the meaning of being cold, dirty, hungry, and lonely until he faced that stark reality of homelessness. Students listened to his story and then asked questions about homelessness and the Midnight Run organization. During his talk with the group, Mr. Williams emphasized that while giving out food, toiletries, and clothing is important, his assessment of a “successful” run is when each participant has a meaningful conversation with someone they meet on the streets.
On January 25, after all Run materials were loaded into the vans, the adult leaders talked with the group about the logistics involved in a Run “stop.” Prior to the Run evening, the ninth graders decided the jobs they would assume during the Run – handing out meals, serving hot chocolate or soup, passing out jackets, etc. Following this talk, the students piled into two vans and a car and headed out to the first stop. Over the course of the next three hours, they encountered a number of people in the stops we made along Central Park West, all appreciative of the donations, and some willing to chat with the kids, even though the night was bitterly cold. As the night progressed, hopefully the ninth graders came to appreciate the “homeless” as people with names and faces, people who are experiencing rocky points in their lives. One gentleman recited poetry from memory that he had written about being on the streets and about the Midnight Run organization. At another stop we sang “Happy Birthday” to one of our clients. We finished up the Run with some meals and clothing left over. The meals were refrigerated and then brought to appreciative workers at Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco, and the extra clothing was delivered to the Community Center of Northern Westchester and to the Midnight Run organization.
Thanks to all who helped provide resources for the Run. Special thanks to Kathy Perry and Missy Swan for helping to coordinate the four ring circus that occurs during the Midnight Run prep at the Upper Campus, and to Bill Fornara, Tony Frasca, Matt Hall, Vincent Kwarula, and Dan Tepper for venturing out into Manhattan with our Class of 2019.
STORY & PHOTOS: Ninth Grade Dean Chris Perry