Bridges Run

Patrick Bentz, Staff Writer

With so many unique service opportunities available at Delbarton it is easy to miss out on certain programs.  There are of course the big-name events that the entire school takes part in every year but, below the surface, there is a plethora of hidden gems.  The Delbarton School Bridges program is the cream of the crop in my opinion. Unbeknownst to many, Delbarton has been partnering with Bridges Outreach in Summit for a few years now.  The school is able to send about 6-7 students on “runs” with the Bridges team into NYC on three different Friday nights in the winter. Everyone meets in Summit at about 6:30 where we help to load the famous yellow Bridges truck.  We then say a quick prayer and board the bus. After about an hour’s bus ride we reach the city. There, we help to give out hot chocolate, soup, bagged lunches, snacks, gloves, hats, and any other necessities the center is able to distribute.  Typically the team is able to make two stops in New York, at Battery Park and Chinatown. Upwards of 50 homeless people of all ages typically line the sidewalk when we arrive as Bridges has been a consistent presence in the community for years and many people truly depend on it.  We deal out our items with hot soup being the resounding favorite on cold wintery nights. Normally, there is enough for everyone online to receive seconds before we depart. We do the same at the second location before returning to Summit. While this appears to be similar to many of the other service opportunities, the Delbarton Bridges program is truly one of a kind.  

As a coordinator, I have been able to go on three different runs now.  Each has provided a different experience but certain things have remained the same.  In my opinion, the most special aspect of the Bridges program is the number of students that participate.  The small group atmosphere means that each person is counted on heavily to play a crucial role in the distribution process.  Each student that goes on a run is absolutely intrinsic to the process and the entire trip is worse off without that person. The fact that after each run you can walk away knowing that you personally made it easier for a starving person to eat that night is extraordinary.  The nature of the work is also what makes this such a special trip for the group. The thing I remember most from my first run was that after the bus was loud and talkative on the way in when we boarded to leave the first stop the bus was completely silent. For about the next 5 minutes not a single person spoke and everyone simply processed what they had seen.  The sight of young children walking down the line in freezing temperatures, holding out a bag and looking to you for food is life-changing. Each person who goes on a Bridges run encounters this moment as a group. The Bridges program will genuinely change you and you will build a special bond with everyone on the trip. *If interested the next run will be on Friday, January 31st.