Bridges Run: Providing Warmth on a Cold Night

*If interested the next run will be on Friday, January 31st.  

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Bridges Run: Providing Warmth on a Cold Night

Patrick Bentz, Staff Writer

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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 annually but, below the surface there is a plethora of hidden gems.  The Delbarton School Bridges program is the cream of the crop.

Unbeknownst to many, Delbarton has been partnering with Bridges Outreach in Summit for many years.  The school is able to send 6-7 students on “runs” with the Bridges team into NYC on three different Friday nights in the winter. Participants meet in Summit at about 6:30 PM where we help to load the famous yellow Bridges truck.  We then say a quick prayer and board the bus for the hour-long ride into NYC.

Once there, we help distribute hot chocolate, soup, bagged lunches, snacks, gloves, hats, and many other necessities.  Typically the team is able to make two stops in New York: one at Battery Park and another in 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.  Hot soup is the resounding favorite on cold, winter nights. Normally, there is enough for everyone on line 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 elements have remained the same.  The most special aspect of the Bridges Program, in my mind, is the number of students who participate.  The small-group atmosphere means that each person is responsible and accountable to play a crucial role in the distribution process.  Each student who goes on a run is absolutely integral to the process and the entire trip is diminished without that individual.

After each “Bridges Run” you walk away knowing that you personally made it easier for a starving person to eat that night; it is simply extraordinary.  The nature of the work is also what makes this such a special trip for the group. My most vivid memory from my first run was that the bus was loud and talkative on the way in, but when we boarded to leave the first stop the bus was completely silent. For the next five minutes not a single person spoke; 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.