By Despina Kartson
During last night's soup run in Manhattan, the rain stopped, a coach bus moved out of the way and made room for us, the NYPD stood by and said they'd be there if we needed them - people working together to feed our guests on the street. We arrived next to Madison Square Garden where a large crowd was waiting for us. We could hardly set up shop fast enough before we were giving out meals of homemade macaroni & cheese, vegetables and peach cobbler - all still warm and delicious. Hundreds of socks, underwear, hoodies, jackets and toiletry kits were distributed within an hour. More than 100 meals were offered and just as we served the last one, a few more hungry souls arrived and all we could offer was a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. There never seems to be enough for the homeless in New York City.
As always, our guests were thankful for what we provided - food, compassion, laughs and respect. A gentleman took our meal, walked away to eat it, returned for coffee and said he was going to sit at a nearby table and drink it imagining he was in Paris! One of our volunteers was talking with an elderly woman who takes the A train from Far Rockaway to Manhattan for food and clothing. She lives on a fixed income and doesn't have enough money to pay rent and buy food so she does the best she can through the kindness of strangers. Her fingers were swollen, stiff and in pain due to a medical problem so one of our volunteers took off her own gloves and helped put them on the woman. When the woman saw that the gloves had a few sparkles on them, she smiled and said they were nice enough for her to wear them to church!
A young man, wearing only pants and a light jacket, was happy to be given a pair of sweat pants and a sweatshirt. He put them on right in front of us and said even though the size was a bit small, anything warm was better than nothing. Toward the end of the evening, a man brought back a jacket we had given him earlier. He said it didn't fit him so he was returning it so that someone else could wear it. Within a minute, we found that someone else.
We always find that someone else, the one more person who is in need and we offer them all that we have. We went home with empty bins last night - as we should - all items given away. Through the generosity of our Holy Trinity parish community, the Philoptochos, this month's sponsor Kathy Tzortzidis, Minos Samoladas, Manny Louros' great cooking and the many volunteers who offer their time and talents, we try to make a difference once a month to the hungry and homeless. Please help us continue to make a difference and join us next month on April 27th. Donations of socks and new men's and women's underwear are always welcome.