by Despina Kartson
We arrived at 33rd Street to music and celebratory NY Rangers fans enjoying themselves outside of Madison Square Garden. And just down the street stood our faithful guests, lined up, waiting for our meals and clothing for last night's soup run. A couple of men immediately helped us unload our cars and set up.
More than 120 meals of chicken, rice and vegetables were served and we could have given out more. We distributed numerous clothing items - socks and underwear being the most requested. Mario asked us if we had size 12 sneakers and we promised to bring a pair next month. A woman told us she was exhausted, took her shoes off briefly while she slept at a shelter and woke to find that her shoes had been stolen. She was relieved to find a pair of flip flops to wear and said, without any signs of animosity, that the person who took her shoes must have needed them more than she did. Another woman asked for extra underwear for her 17 year old twin daughters in the shelter. When asked about their safety and their situation, she said that her 19 year old daughter and 27 year old son also live in the shelter because they cannot afford housing and they look out for each other.
At one point in the evening, a few people were gathered around one of our volunteers in what appeared to be an intense conversation. When another volunteer asked if everything was OK, and it was, one of the guests said "You don't need to worry, we will take care of you. We know you are good people and we won't let anything happen to you."
Many extraordinary events and experiences touch us during our monthly soup runs and we always know that the hand of God is providing, often when we least expect it. At the end of the evening when we had distributed every item we thought we had brought with us, we were talking with Claudette. She asked if we had a suit for her grown son who needed a suit to attend a wedding. Just as we were about to tell Claudette that we were completely out of clothing, we recalled that we inadvertently took from the basement a very nice suit jacket and pair of slacks. We didn't plan to take it to 33rd Street but we did and it was hanging in one of our cars. We gave it to Claudette who could not have been more appreciative and truly delighted to have found a suit for her son.
Thank you to the wonderful volunteers from the Holy Trinity community, Manny Louros for the delicious meal, Demetra Ventresca for sponsoring the soup run, Eirini Metaxas for the icons and Minos Samoladas for his generous donation.
A few of our guests said they heard last night was our final night and that we would not be there over the summer. We told them we are faithful to them and will provide food and clothing during the summer and all year long - we don't take the summer off because there is no time off for those who are hungry. Please join us on May 25.