April 22, 2018

Below is the thank you letter written to all of the groups involved in a wonderful service project today in support of Bridges Outreach, a Summit based organization that has been aiding local homeless friends for 30 years.

Dear Central Presbyterian Kindergartners, Stanley Family and friends, Fear the Gear, Columbia High School robotics and Washington Avenue School artists:

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Thank you for helping make today's Bridges run/Robotics demonstration to Irvington a success!

Central Presbyterian's kindergartners made 75 beautifully decorated lunches under the direction of their teacher and Stanley member Sharon Dougherty. Washington Avenue School K-3 artists decorated the remainder of the bags, some with Earth Day themes, very appropriate for today! The other lunches were made by robotics teams Fear the Gear and We Byte.

Twelve volunteers met up at Bridges headquarters in Summit this morning where we listened to Tobias Fox explain how a run worked and why it is so important to go out and help our homeless friends. We drove behind the yellow Bridges truck and started setting up tables, some for donated food and clothing and one table for the three robots the teams brought.

There were sixty or seventy homeless friends lined up, waiting for our arrival. As always we started with our "beverage service," hot chicken noodle soup and lemonade. This is a great time to greet our friends and establish a connection. 6-year-old Samir and his grandmother headed straight for the robots. He was fascinated. He played catch and flew paper airplanes with Columbia High School's robots and later drove and picked up cups with Fear the Gear's bot. I got permission to photograph him and you can see his face light up when he gets the robot to move!

Our adult friends also showed interest in the robots and had a lot of questions, "do you compete with the robots?' The answer to which is "yes." The follow up question, "Did you win," was answered, "sometimes." The teams that came today compete in New Jersey First Tech Challenge. During their season they are friendly rivals but this is now the third year that Fear the Gear and Columbia High School have come together to share their passion with our homeless friends in Irvington. 

Many of our friends talked to me, admiring the effort that must have gone into building and programming the robots. They really appreciated the demonstration, another expression that Bridges Outreach's goal is not only to help the homeless with material needs, but also to bring people together and erase the sense of other. It was a beautiful day in Irvington!


Lucy Malatesta