The holidays are a time for celebration, family and warmth. Every year, BHGH of NY staff and scholars volunteer with Sister Mary of YES! Solutions for her “Holiday-on-the-Street” events (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day). The purpose of these events is to help people in need in Harlem. Sister Mary says these are the holidays where no one should be alone and not feel the warmth of kindness, generosity, and human connection. These annual events are a celebration of shared humanity.
On Thanksgiving Eve, we pulled an all-nighter in a large kitchen on Columbia University’s campus, preparing over a thousand meals to give out to the community. At the direction of professional chefs, our volunteers worked tirelessly to provide fresh, well-cooked and bountiful meals. Meals made with heart. Volunteers even arrived early Wednesday morning to pick fresh thyme, a time-consuming and arduous task, but one that encapsulates what Thanksgiving is about: showing care and gratitude toward others. We baked bread and pies, chopped spices and herbs, seasoned and smoked full turkeys, made stuffing, whipped our own whipped cream and hand made the remaining trimmings. Our scholars arrived this year at 3:00pm on Wednesday, right after school, and worked through the night. We did not leave until 8:00am on Thanksgiving morning. It is a testament of our scholars’ dedication to service and being a person for others.
The best part is that giving out food is only a part of what we do for the community during these events. Our artists draw and paint decorations with children in the neighborhood. Our performers sing and dance their hearts out to the delight of visitors waiting in line. Our high energy scholars shovel snow, set-up tables, and unload trucks. During each “On-the-Street” event, we are all given an opportunity to contribute to the day to the best of our spirit’s ability. It truly is an impactful way to spend our time during this season.
If you would like to volunteer and be a part of these momentous and necessary, “On-the-Street” events, join us next year in November and December as we take to the streets as a community. Each time we will be located at 125th St. & Morningside, you can’t miss us.