7:00 am: The familiar iPhone alarm goes off, a marimba sequence that would be pleasant if it didn’t disrupt my slumber for an 8am statistics class three times a week. But today is a Saturday and I can’t hit the snooze button.
7:15 am: Bravely venture out into the chilly morning, dressed for maximum warmth. The sky is overcast and the chance of rain hangs heavy in the air.
7:25 am: Finally reach the Astor Place subway station. The flashing sign indicates that the next train won’t be here for another 15 minutes. I mentally smack myself for misreading the map and not just leaving from the Union Square station. Frantically clinging on to what little signal I get underground, I text Anthony telling him I’ll be running late.
7:55 am: Exit the subway system. Whipping out my phone, I consult it for a good minute, turning it this way and that, tapping the compass and squinting at the name on the street sign one block down until I’m sure of which way to go. Promptly begin running in the wrong direction.
7:58 am: Administer another mental smack upon realizing my mistake. A call from Anthony comes in and I assure him I will be there in 2 minutes, as I sprint in the right direction this time.
8:00 am: Arrive at The Bowery Mission. At least, according to my phone, I’ve arrived. But I don’t see any signs. Then I hear my name and see Anthony waving to me from the front seat of a van. I run over, apologizing profusely for being late.
8:15 am: Get off at Tompkins Square Park. Volunteers begin to unload crates of food – everything from Pret a Manger sandwiches and Whole Foods salads to cucumbers and apple slices. Anthony points to the spot at the end of the food line where we’ll be handing out socks in addition to hummus, wraps, and packs of fruit. Keith, from the Bowery Mission, asks for my “game face” and laughs at my feeble attempt. In addition to staff from the mission, there is also a group of volunteers from Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Everyone is so energetic despite the early hour.
8:45 am: First pair of socks go out. “Good morning, how are you? Would you like a chicken or egg wrap? Carrots or apples? Here’s a pair of socks too. Stay warm and have a nice day!” The line is shorter than usual, Anthony tells me. Maybe it’s because of the imminent rain. We have 100 pairs of socks to hand out but perhaps there won’t even be enough people to give them all out. There is a misty drizzle now.
9:30 am: Running out of socks! The drizzle has turned into a light rain but that hasn’t stopped more individuals from coming out, umbrellas in hand. There is an interesting mix of people, many of whom seem to be from nearby Chinatown. There is a man dressed in business attire and I even spot a couple of coach purses. Some want wraps but no fruit, some want apples and not veggies, but not a single person says no to a pair of socks. They are all so thankful for the warm, clean socks – something we take for granted but is a rare luxury for those who are currently experiencing homelessness.
9:45 am: All the socks are gone. After handing out the remaining hummus, it is time to wrap up and head out. I’m actually feeling reluctant to go. It’s a relief to get out of the rain, which has grown into a steady stream, but at the same time, I wish we had enough socks for every person to receive a pair.
There it is… my first time participating in a KNO Delivery Event. Now I think I can say that I am truly “in the KNO.” What is so amazing is that the Bowery Mission hands out even more food than this on an almost daily basis. What if KNO could do that with socks? Food is important because it keeps our bodies going, but clean clothing provides warmth warm and dignity. If you are reading this, I would like to ask you to purchase KNO. Don’t just make a fashion statement with what you wear. Make a statement about ending homelessness.