By Lucy Kwittken
On December 15th, over 30 volunteers gathered at B’nai Yisrael for the annual Midnight Run. The Midnight Run is an organization, and a traditional event for CBY, in which volunteers give out hot meals and clothing to the homeless living in New York City -especially needed by these individuals on cold December nights. This event provides an opportunity for the community to give back to those who are less fortunate and partake in the tradition of giving back during the holidays.
On a chilly winter Saturday, the temple began to prepare. The community was asked to donate blankets, sheets, sweaters, shoes, hats, mittens, and any new or gently-used warm clothing that they could find. Along with these items, community members were asked to donate toiletries like shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, towels, deodorant, and new underwear and socks. Volunteers were faced with a mountain of clothing donated by the community and food, used to prepare bagged lunches and a hot meal. The clothing was sorted by gender and article of clothing. All of the garments that weren’t needed – children’s clothing – were donated to the local community center in town. After the clothing was put into plastic bags, they were loaded into a van, which would head to NYC later in the evening. Other volunteers helped to prepare sandwiches, stew, and pasta. The organizer, Jen Hershaft, explains how “a warm meal and nice clothing really is a miracle for these people.” This year’s run was Hershaft’s second time organizing the event, and she has participated countless times before that.
At last, it was finally time for the run…
After a day spent organizing, the vans were loaded up by the volunteers who would be spending time with the homeless in NYC late that evening. Typically only a couple of families participate in the actual run. At 10:00 pm, the night was just beginning… noodles and stew were served for dinner, while others handed out clothing to the less fortunate. The giving was not exclusive to one area. The volunteers’ work lasted until extends to 1:00 am.
The Midnight Run can be a great experience for all of those involved. Hershaft points out, “When someone actually sees and realizes what they are doing for these people, it is very humbling…. many people do not get that experience in life.” The Midnight Run does not just help to feed and clothe the homeless, it makes them feel recognized and important. Taking time out of the day to help those in need has a great reward worth remembrance and recognition.