About 20 students of different faiths and high schools volunteered together last week to assist the homeless, serving them hot meals and preparing lunches.
Teens from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, Huntington Jewish Center, the Huntington Muslim Youth Outreach group and the Latino youth group at St. Hugh of Lincoln Church.
The initiative was organized by the Religious Educator Committee of LIICAH, Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate. LIICAH’s mission is to bring together community members, educators, faith leaders and elected officials to learn about diverse cultures and religions and to stand against hate.
In addition to the dinner and lunches, students prepared a dessert of chocolate chip cookies, serving the meal and then spending time talking to the homeless men and playing cards and dominoes with them. The students from the Latino youth group were able to translate for the Spanish-speaking guests.
“It was heartwarming for the adults present to see such a diverse group of kids working together and learning that much more unites us than divides us,” said Dr. Eve Krief, founder of LIICAH.
Every week local churches and synagogues provide a hot meal and a place to sleep through HIHI, the Huntington Interfaith Homeless Initiative. The mission of HIHI is to provide a safe, warm place to spend the night for homeless individuals who are living outdoors. This is a grass roots effort shared by the faith-based community and Family Service League. Together, they work to ensure that the homeless men and women sleep indoors during the coldest winter months. This program was created to serve those who are ineligible or unable to obtain help from the Department of Social Services or other shelter facilities. Together, the membership of HIHI believes that all people deserve dignity, respect, compassion and empathy and a warm bed on the coldest of nights.
“The students all shared with me that they learned a great deal and most of all how thankful they are for what they have .” Amanda Ramos, youth director St. Hugh’s.
“This was probably the saddest thing I’ve seen and I wish I could be rich and just give every one of them a job and help them out in any way possible just to lift them up,” – said Jerry, 15, from St. Hugh’s.
Owen from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs said “It was a good experience. Knowing that you’re helping out is cool and the diversity of the kids made it more uplifting to see that everyone wanted to help out.”