January 21, 2018

Friday and Saturday were a whirlwind of activity in support of Bridges Outreach, a Summit based homeless advocacy group that delivers food, clothing and other services directly to our friends on the street. Friday at 1:15 pm Mr. Cronin’s and Mrs. Worden’s students  gathered and banged out 150 lunches in a little over 30 minutes, but this process took a lot of preparation. Sign up lists were made and families stepped forward to donate 20 pounds of turkey, 300 slices of bread, and enough granola bars, cheese sticks, fruit,and drinks to complete the lunches. Students prepared by decorating the bags with messages of caring and hope and eight moms stepped forward to aid the process.

Same day, 4:00 pm Cub Scout Pack 6 arrived at Stanley Hall to repeat the process. Scouts and siblings decorated the bags on site and made an additional 75 lunches, again, all the food was donated by scout families and parental support was very present! Troop 28’s Liam Walsh and James Caron helped mentor the younger boys but even the very youngest participants threw themselves into the project, not to be outdone by the big kids or adults.

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On Saturday, these precious lunches were loaded onto the big yellow Bridges Outreach truck and 10 volunteers, including Mr. Cronin himself! Stanley’s Pastor Bernie Weishaupt, core volunteer Joan, more Stanley folk, and three Chatham High School friends caravanned to two locations in Newark. The first was Martin Luther King Blvd.  Friends were waiting patiently for us to set up tables and start. It was a relatively warm day but still chilly enough to make the cups of hot chocolate and chicken soup we offered a pleasure to drink and hold! This was our chance to chat, and learn names. We met a gentleman whom everyone called “Duke.”  I asked him to come over to the soup table with me because that’s where Stanley’s Linda “Duke,” was serving, so Duke got to meet Duke which was fun. I always wear my Marines and Navy jackets and hats because it’s a conversation starter for the many homeless friends who are veterans. This time we met James who served in the Air Force making liquid oxygen for pilots. We also met Hannibal, a Marine who was injured in Afghanistan. We spent about a half an hour here and were able to hand out several lunches each as well as t-shirts and toiletry kits.

Our second stop was Harmony House a shelter for homeless families, mostly women and children. We had more food to give out along with donated clothing, coats, fleeces, boots, hats, etc. which we laid out on tables in the locked and gated courtyard. We acted as personal shoppers for families looking for something they could use. It was fun to help young children pick out their own things and stuff a bag full of new treasurers. One resident kindly held up some of the best items, trying to match them to other friends. She was looking out for her neighbors. When we finished at Harmony House parents asked their children to thank us, just like yours would.

Thank you, all of you, for coming together for this project.  Be encouraged that even our youngest volunteers totally “get it.”  Second grader Jack Steiner decorated his bag with a carrot because “I want to say they are worth 24 carats to me.”  Yes, indeed Jack, well said!