On two consecutive Saturdays in December members of the Chicago Region distributed a total of 315 coats to individuals of Chicago's street-dwelling homeless community.
On December 4, the region partnered with Featherfist, Inc., which runs an outreach program for Chicago's homeless, to form three independent convoys of Malta and Featherfist transport vehicles, volunteers, and trucks to deliver coats to known street-dwelling encampments. The team 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 December 11, the region partnered with Matthew House, Inc., which runs a daytime shelter and breakfast/lunch service for Chicago homeless 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 we served. Chicago's street-dwelling population continues to become younger; the number of people 18 to 24 years old dwelling on the streets is increasing at the fastest rate seen by our partner organizations. In response to this, we hope that our 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.