Christmas came a little early to our guests on 33rd Street during Last Night's Soup Run. We provided more than 100 sets of hats, scarves and gloves knit by our Knitting for Charity group which were packaged in holiday bags and very well received. We served 130 meals to those who were on the street and other hungry souls we found in Penn Station.
We met a number of new guests and caught up with some of our "regulars". One gentleman told us he has been on dialysis for 7 years and is getting a kidney transplant next week. He asked if there was anything left for him and we had one last hat/scarf/glove package that we happily gave to him. He said he has been clean for 9 years and that God has blessed him with a transplant. He looks forward to being in the hospital "in a nice warm bed, with food and people taking care of me".
A couple, married for 20 years and with four children, is living in a homeless shelter in the Bronx and just learned that it is closing in January. They sent their children to live with a grandmother in Puerto Rico but they were displaced after the grandmother's house was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in September. The children and grandmother are now living with other family members in Florida while the parents try to get back on their feet and bring their children "home".
One of our volunteers had a long conversation with Sol. Sol was born and raised in Morocco and moved to Manhattan when he was in his twenties. Early on, he lived in an apartment in Chelsea with a friend and worked as a chef at an Italian restaurant. During 15 years as a chef, Sol learned many cooking techniques but grew bored of the occupation and moved on. He started working in Brooklyn with a friend but was let go and could not afford his apartment which has now caused him to be out on the street. He talked about how hard it is on the street but expressed sincere gratitude for our group's generosity and efforts. He also realized that things could be worse - if he were sick or injured.
After talking with Sol about the bad times, they quickly moved on to the good: his home country Morocco. We talked about his hometown Casa Blanca, which is filled with magicians who eat glass and tame rattlesnakes. He was thrilled when he heard that Morocco had made the World Cup and that the USA hadn’t. He mentioned that about five years ago he was going to move back, said he had 10k saved up but he fell on hard times and had to spend it all to survive. Our volunteer so enjoyed talking with Sol that he is inspired to visit Sol's hometown in Morocco!
We learn and receive as much as we give when we talk with our guests. They may surprise and amaze us with the stories of their lives and perhaps most of all, we are reminded that they are people just like us.
Thank you to our special, most generous sponsors of this month's soup run: Martha Kypar in memory of Manos Kypar and Danna Copulos whose donations enabled us to purchase extra clothing items; Peter Pappas for donations of socks and oranges; Alexis Livanos for her annual Christmas cookie treats; and the Grammas family from The Greentree Country Club who provided the delicious meals of turkey, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Thank you to our many volunteers who served last night and to all who support us through their donations and work behind the scenes.
Please remember the hungry and the homeless in your prayers - always but most especially at this time of year. We are in need of warm clothing: jackets, coats, sweatshirts and blankets. Join us next month on January 25th. Wishing all a very blessed Christmas and a 2018 that is filled with good health and a happy home. #lastnightssouprun