April 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ma’ayanot Students Distribute Food, Clothing and Toiletries to Homeless

Manhattan streets were alive at midnight on Thursday night, May 16, as Ma’ayanot students participated for the fourth year in a row in Midnight Run. The initiative, which incorporates over 1,000 missions each year, aims to forge human connections between volunteers and people who live on the streets. Together with faculty adviser Caryn Keller, student volunteers gathered boxes of clothing and toiletries from members of the community, purchased food from Peapod and received donations from Grand & Essex, Dunkin Donuts and Target. Then in a midnight excursion, they distributed the goods to homeless people who had been told to expect their arrival.

The students were excited to participate, and reported being profoundly affected by the experience. Danit Forman, 12th grade, said “I realized how much I allow the stereotypical view of homeless people to influence how I see them, but in reality they’re just nice, genuine people just like me.” Eleventh-grader Atara Herrmann echoed the sentiment. “I expected the people to be grumpy and not want to talk to me, but in fact I had some really amazing conversations. I was left smiling from ear to ear and feeling like I just left hanging out with friends.” Atara also described the joy with which the donations were received, saying “It was so fulfilling to see the looks on their faces when we gave them things we take for granted but others desperately need. I learned to be more grateful for everything I have, and not to complain about things others would do anything for.” Sophomore Rivka Yellin also felt the Midnight Run was a learning experience. “I live in Manhattan, so I usually pass homeless people and lower my eyes/ignore them or maybe give them a dollar, but this experience showed me that they are not scary people or dangerous. They are just in unfortunate situations. It’s so easy to just make a sandwich or give them a drink. It really goes a long way.”

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