On A Midnight Run This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   On a Midnight Run

by J. A., Scarsdale, NY

The old, silver UPS-size truck drove quickly down the highway. The doors and windows were constantly rattling, and the slightest bump threw boxes off the shelves. Hillary and I sat crowded in the back with Mrs. Katz, among old clothing, blankets, and bagged lunches. We rummaged through all the cartons on the shelves to see what was in them. They held toiletries, underwear, socks, and other necessities. Myron drove the truck and whistled Christmas carols. Bernie sat next to him, helping him with directions.

"Okay, 79th Street, our first stop," Myron informed us. "Can you see the people running toward the corner?" he asked. There were about ten people, black, white, Hispanic, old, young, men and women. It was 11: 30 p.m. and there were even a couple of children running toward the truck. These people all had two things in common: they were homeless and they were thrilled to see us.

We pulled up to the corner of the street. The people had already begun to form a line. We lifted the garage-type door in the back of the truck, and popped out the windows on the side. I was a little afraid to get out of the truck and talk to them, because I feared feeling sad and depressed. I also didn't know how they would react toward someone like me.

The people turned out to be very polite and cheerful. If I had met them under any other circumstances, I probably would not have known they were homeless. They walked up to the windows and asked for whatever they needed. Whether it was size 32 jeans, a toothbrush, or an extra pair of socks, we did our best to provide them with it.

We drove around the city for another three hours. We made various stops at different street corners. Some stops had over thirty people, others had only five or six. At the end of the evening our stock of food and clothing was almost completely depleted. But our goal was to get rid of it all.

On the side of Macy's department store was a row of cardboard boxes. For many people these boxes were home. It was 3: 30 in the morning. We hopped out of the truck and approached the boxes. We carried bagged lunches and blankets. We knocked lightly on each box and whispered, "We're from Midnight Run; we have food for you." Sometimes the sleeping person would show his face, other times he would just stick out his arm. We gave whatever we had and wished them a happy holiday.

At about 4: 00 we climbed back into the empty truck. As we drove toward home on the highway, the doors and windows rattled, but there were no more boxes to fall off the shelves. I closed my eyes and recapped the evening. In merely four hours, we emptied an entire truckload of food and clothing. We helped many people have a less hungry or cold night. However, there are still thousands of other homeless people whom we did not see, and could not help. I always try to imagine myself homeless. Life would have to be taken one day at a time. Who knows from day to day if you are going to be cold and hungry, and if a team like the Midnight Run will come by and help you out. Or who knows from night tonight if you can get into a shelter, or if you will have to sleep on the streets. I realize how lucky I am, and how often I take my life for granted.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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