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 ten years, RCS ninth graders have participated in the Midnight Run. This year, the students helped to organize materials even before the Run evening. This work entailed taking inventory of all clothing donated by the Upper Campus community and also coordinating the collection of all toiletry items. A special thanks to the ninth grade parents who helped to make soup, hard-boiled eggs, and meatloaf (for a very popular sandwich!): Dahiana Salazar, Susanna Giordano, Susan Carlson, Mary McPherson, Samantha O’Brien, Lynne Autorino, and Diana Knoblauch. Thanks also to the generosity of the RCS community for donating $775 toward our jeans day 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 the 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. Members of the ninth grade 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 February 3, after all Run materials were loaded into the vans, Vic Fried, the RCS Midnight Run leader of many years, talked with the group about the logistics involved in a Run “stop.” After the ninth graders selected the jobs they would assume during the Run – handing out meals, serving coffee or soup, passing out jackets, etc. – 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 they made along Central Park West. All were appreciative of the donations, and some were willing to chat with the students, even though the night was bitterly cold. As the night progressed, the ninth graders came to appreciate the “homeless” as people with names and faces, people who are experiencing rocky points in their lives. The group finished up the Run with some meals, soup, and clothing left over. The meals and soup were refrigerated and then brought to appreciative workers at Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco, and the clothing was left at the Bedford Presbyterian Church for their next Midnight Run in March.
Thanks to all who helped provide resources for the Run. A 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, to Carol and Pete Gahagan for making a meatloaf and helping to organize clothing, and to Vic Fried, Paul Ragonesi, Bill Barrett, and Chris Perry for venturing out to Manhattan with Rippowam Cisqua's Class of 2017.