It’s not just because they’re in the holiday spirit.
All year round Bronxites and students at the College of Mount St. Vincent have been helping out the needy in Manhattan through the Midnight Run program. For more than a decade, the college has been sending Bronxites downtown, armed with care packages for the homeless.
The last run of the semester was held on Thursday, November 11, and students spent hours that afternoon making sandwiches for the packages, and getting the blankets, socks, bags and tooth brushes ready for the ride to the city.
“I had the pleasure to be part of the sandwich-making about seven or eight times this semester,” said Bridgette Guevara. “It’s been great. It’s not every day that we think about the homeless, but helping out I know that at least this way, once or twice a month they will have something.”
The junior Tremont resident said she was unaware of the nearly 16 runs the college makes each school year. She said she learned about the runs through her work-study program with the Campus Ministries, and was excited at the opportunity to be able to give back.
“It’s very thoughtful,” she said. “Those people are not able to buy food. I can help and at least give them some food and supplies to make them comfortable for the night.”
Guevara said she has not yet gone down to Manhattan to give out the food, but she may in the future.
According to Sister Cecilia Harriendorf, director of Campus Ministries at the college, dozens of students join in the Midnight Run programs and nearly 300 of the 1,500 member student body take part in some charity program or another.
“Charity isn’t a requirement here, it’s an expectation,” she said. “Caring for people that might not be as well off as we are is in keeping with the school’s mission.”
The college has been working with the Dobbs Ferry-based Midnight Run group for the past 13 years. At each run students hand out about 100 sandwiches during the night. That means about 1,800 sandwiches a year, Harriendorf said.
The runs are only in Manhattan.The group constantly changes locations, keeping the drop-off points secret until a few hours before the run.
According to Harriendorf, the runs not only allow the students to perform their charity work, it is also a way for the young adults to learn about the world.
“There are more people hungry now. The economy hasn’t helped,” she said. “Food pantries aren’t getting supplies because so much need is out there. It’s one thing to learn about the economy in the classroom, but it’s another to go and see it on the streets.”
For freshman Jordan Fernandez, of the Pelham Parkway area, the runs have given him the opportunity to give back to the community.
“I’ve had some help throughout my childhood and I wanted to give back,” he said, after helping to put together the ham and turkey sandwiches. “I’m a history major and I want to be a teacher. Then I can give back even more.”