Sister Marie Mackey, C.S.J., campus ministry director at SJC Brooklyn, and a group of nine honors program students, donated 30 bags filled with toiletries and other essential supplies this month to the homeless along Atlantic Avenue.
The students purchased the items, packed them in backpacks or laundry bags, and delivered them to the Office of Student Life in Tuohy Hall. S. Marie hand-delivered the bags to homeless men and women along Atlantic Avenue and around the Atlantic Terminal station.
The bags included such supplies as soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, warm socks, gloves, a hat and scarf, hand warmers, feminine hygiene products, protein bars, lip balm, tissues and a bottle of water.
S. Marie said the SJC Brooklyn honors students were eager to volunteer.
“I chose this project because so many people are in need, specifically around this time of year,” said Mikaela Speleotes, a junior nursing major. “(COVID-19) has not made anyone’s situation easier. I always want to help the homeless whenever I have the chance. I am delighted that Sister Marie allowed us to do so, and I hope to do projects similar to this one more often in the future!”
Athena Matiatos, a freshman criminal justice major, added to that sentiment.
“I chose to be a part of this project because donating time and helping others is something I love to do,” Matiatos said. “However, because of the coronavirus, it has now become so limited. Being a part of this project has shown me we all can make an effort, large or small, to help those in our community, even during times like these.”
Backpacks Offer Support in a Time of Need
S. Marie has a relationship with most of the recipients of the backpacks, as she meets them regularly on her commute to and from the College on Mondays and Wednesdays. She said that they were exceptionally grateful for the donations.
“As we all know, many of the homeless suffer from some level of mental illness or drug and alcohol issues, while others find themselves in dire straits due to Covid,” S. Marie said. “Whatever the reason, they are our brothers and sisters in need. Our abundance is their basic sustenance. Our acts of charity have value, but we need to take the next step and address the underlying issues.
She continued: “As concerned citizens and people of faith, we need to force the hand of our city and state leaders to address the social ills of our time. We are called to stand with the most vulnerable, like our founding Sisters of St. Joseph did in 1650 and throughout these 370 years. Let’s continue this legacy of love not just at Christmastime but each and every day of our lives.”