The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Croton, Briarcliff, and Ossining recently hosted an educational Sunday Service about “Midnight Run,” an organization which provides food and clothing to homeless people not in shelters. The Unitarian Youth Group then participated in an actual Midnight Run on December 31, 2007, collecting food and clothing for homeless people, and taking these items to actual individuals on the street.
Midnight Run began in 1984 when a group from South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, New York, decided to volunteer at a Manhattan soup kitchen. After noticing that some of the homeless were taking extra food, they investigated, and discovered that there were substantial numbers of the homeless who were not coming to the soup kitchens. Rather, a few of the homeless poor had started an informal system to distribute excess food to their friends on the street.
Eventually, members of this original group began visiting Grand Central Station and the streets nearby on Tuesday nights to distribute food, supplies and clothing, and to offer companionship and conversation to homeless people. Volunteers from other churches and synagogues in Westchester County enlisted, and by 1989 a dozen groups were participating. Midnight Run helps volunteers collect, sort and store clothes, and coordinate the donations and the thousands of volunteers it takes to make Midnight Run a reality.
Enthusiasm for Midnight Run has been contagious and, without a grand master plan, the program has grown from the original tiny group to a collaboration of more than 150 community organizations. Shahan Islam of Croton-on-Hudson, who helped organize the Unitarian Youth Group, said, “It’s a good opportunity for our children to see homeless people as individuals, and to put Unitarian principles about the inherent worth and dignity of every person into action.”
For more information on Midnight Run, visit their website at www.midnightrun.org, and to learn more about Croton Unitarians, social action for peace and justice, and to attend a service, please come visit us at the Unitarian Fellowship at 2020 Albany Post Road (Rte 9A) in Croton, or on the web at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Briarcliff, Croton, and Ossining at their website, www.uucroton.org.