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FROM THE EVERYTHING CROTON MAILBAG:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
God Squad Raises Awareness for Homelessness and the Bar for Donations
Croton-on-Hudson, New York (December 7, 2014) – Holy Name of Mary’s Youth Group, “God Squad,” raised a record $5,300 in donations for Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill (CHOP) during their Homeless Awareness Sleepout. This year’s Sleepout was filled with visits from area community leaders and special guests. Cardinal Dolan’s visit was a real “shot in the arm” after teens battled a day of torrential rain that led into a wind-whipped evening.
The teen group also collected a half dozen boxes of non-perishable food for CHOP’s Fred’s Food Pantry and more than 20 tubs of men’s and women’s clothing for Holy Name of Mary’s Midnight Run Ministry. Cardinal Dolan, who was battling a “wicked” cold, jump-started the clothing drive by donating his Irish-knit hat, scarf and gloves. St. Patrick’s Day organizer Dave Lally immediately seized on the opportunity to raffle the Cardinal’s Irish-knit hat at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Party.
Cardinal Dolan beamed with pride as he witnessed in person the commitment that God Squad had been making for over 10 years to be in “solidarity” with the homeless. He reminded the teens that “Jesus was homeless” and pointed out that they were living out St. Matthew’s Gospel verse “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
The weekend was made even more special by the participation of another Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries (CYFM) teen group from St. Margaret’s of Antioch in Pearl River. Four teens and their CYFM leaders took part in the Sleepout as an experiment to see if the concept could work in their own parish and left with “one of the most memorable experiences of their lives,” said Youth Minister Hollis Dunlop.
In the spirit and tradition of St. Francis of Assisi, CYFM is rebuilding today’s Catholic Church by reaching out to young people and their families through retreats, parish ministry, and service to the poor.
Later in the evening, CHOP board member Ron Maurer visited God Squad for the sixth consecutive year with teens from the Phoenix House Academy to award the members of the youth group with a plaque commemorating their efforts. Afterwards the kids gathered around the fire, while others mixed it up on the basketball court in what has become an annual gathering for the two groups. Phoenix House Academy is a treatment program that helps teen boys and girls find recovery from drug or alcohol abuse while continuing their education.
The Knights of Columbus from Holy Name of Mary greeted the God Squad youths with a sunrise egg sandwich and pancake breakfast, which epitomized the generosity of our local Croton community. Local bakery Baked by Susan and newcomer Hopscotch Restaurant teamed up to prepare a simple bread and soup dinner for the teens to keep with the spiritof a homeless soup kitchen. Berger Appliances in Hawthorne and Albano Appliances in Pound Ridge provided oversized boxes,which became “cardboard condominiums” sleeping up to three teens per box throughout the night.
God Squad Youth Minister Carl Barnes reiterated that “the Homeless Awareness Sleepout has become an annual “rite of passage” for many of Croton’s teens to pull their “first all-nighter.” Croton Harmon High School seniors Caroline Barnes, Nick Derbabian, Kyle Rossini, Eric Gaccione and Ben Vasta might have described it best when they shared that over the past 4 years “the Sleepout has become the event that kicks off their holiday season with the ultimate spirit of giving of oneself.”
Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill, Inc. (CHOP) seeks to alleviate hunger and homelessness in the Peekskill community by providing food and shelter to persons in need. With the help of its volunteers, CHOP runs highly successful programs including Jan Peek House, Sunny Donut Free Breakfast Program, and Fred’s Pantry at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Peekskill. Participants in these programs come from diverse backgrounds, but they are united in their determination to lead fulfilling lives.
Contact: Carl Barnes
Holy Name of Mary, Youth Minister
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