Service Recap: Chicago Malta Coat Distribution Effort a Success
On the consecutive Saturdays of 4 and 11 December, members of the Chicago Region distributed a total of 315 coats to individuals of Chicago's "street dwelling" homeless community.
On 4 December, in partnership with Featherfist, Inc. (https://featherfist.org), which runs an outreach program for Chicago's homeless "street dwellers," three independent convoys consisting of Malta and Featherfist transport vehicles, volunteers, and delivery trucks were guided by our streetwise Featherfist teammates to known street dwelling encampments throughout Chicago and distributed coats to 250 genuinely grateful and friendly individuals who, that very night, began facing the challenges of a Chicago winter in ways that we can only imagine.
On 11 December, in partnership with Matthew House, Inc. (https://www.mhchicago.org), which runs a daytime shelter and breakfast/lunch service for Chicago "street dwellers" who spend their nights on city trains and buses, we distributed coats and socks to 65 thankful and affable individuals who shared a breakfast of sausage and grits after spending one of Chicago's coldest and wettest December nights navigating the city's transit system to find a warm, dry place to sleep. Matthew House clients have been returning to the shelter proudly wearing their coats, and new arrivals have been asking for the coats since our departure.
Smiles, accompanied by "Gracias" and "Thank you so much," are examples of the simple, deeply sincere, and dignified expressions of gratitude that every member of the teams received from those whom we served. As Chicago's "street dwelling" population continues to become younger in age (the number of 18-24 year olds dwelling on the streets is increasing at the fastest rate seen by our partner organizations), we hope that our "hands-on" distribution efforts not only warmed the bodies of Mary, Raul, Andrew, Hakeem, Maria, Gene, Joy, Eli, Isaiah,
Cornelius, and all the other 300 plus people we met who live on Chicago's streets, but will also warm their hearts and their souls in ways intended in our Daily Prayer of the Order--and that members of our Order have gained insights into the nature and magnitude of homelessness in our community and an appreciation for the service that we have begun to provide this Christmas Season.