As a former student at Byram Hills High School, I was in constant awe of my peers who worked hard in the school’s two three-year programs, Authentic Science Research and Global Scholars. Students can choose to begin these programs as sophomores, working to conduct research on the current state of the social or scientific world and choose a particular subject they would like to delve into.
Throughout the subsequent two years, they work with professionals in those fields. The goal is to contribute to their topic’s research or activism and make a concrete contribution to the world.
The work of rising seniors Ashley Weissman and Zoe Marcus left me no less impressed, as I learned about their work to combat homelessness in New York City. Having worked with the organization myself as a student in New York City, I was incredibly excited to hear about their passion for their work and genuine desire to make a difference, which was evident in a press release they sent out describing their project.
Weissman and Marcus explained their current efforts as well as future plans to get the Armonk community involved. After choosing their subject, they began to research ways to most effectively help those in need.
“When researching about homelessness, something that caught our attention was how most people donate things they think the homeless people would need, rather than what they actually need and want,” they wrote.
Outreach to ‘Midnight Run’
To get a better sense of how to most effectively aid those in need, they reached out to Midnight Run, a volunteer organization which seeks to take a more human approach to aiding the unhoused by organizing in-person, late night drop-offs of necessary goods. According to their website, Midnight Run organizes “over 1,000 relief missions per year, in which volunteers from churches, synagogues, schools and other civic groups distribute food, clothing, blankets and personal care items to the homeless poor on the streets of New York City.”
Dale Williams, the executive director of the organization, was once homeless himself, and explained to Weissman and Marcus that simple toiletries were one of the necessary items which many people overlooked when donating to relief organizations.
To begin making a change in their local community, Weissman and Marcus organized “mini lessons” to teach students at H. C. Crittenden Middle School about homelessness and Midnight Run. Then, they helped to create packages full of toiletries and necessary items to distribute during a run with the organization.
“We got these toiletries with our funding from the Changemaker presentation where different funders come together to give out money to help,” they said. “We are hoping to participate on a Midnight Run, and are just waiting to get the date.”
Their goal for the future is to get more people in Armonk involved with Midnight Run and the fight against homelessness. In the past, the organization has seen a shortage of volunteers to have been willing to participate in late-night runs to distribute goods, but Weissman and Marcus are hoping to increase those numbers by raising awareness with their project.
Over the remainder of their time in the program, Weissman and Marcus will work to “investigate global issues, analyze diverse perspectives, communicate ideas effectively in both English and a second language, and take action,” according to the program’s website.
Those looking to help them make a difference can find volunteer information at Midnight Run, where they describe the step-by-step process of organizing and executing a successful run. This begins with collecting and sorting clothes, assembling a crew of volunteers, reserving vehicles, which may include vans owned by the organization and loaned to volunteers by request, buying durable items such as toiletries, socks, and underwear, and more. The organization also lists information for their Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast runs. Visit MidnightRun.org to learn more.