Saturday, December 25, 2010

This is Christmas, Not a Factory.

The other day I was supposed to meet some of my teammates and rearrange the storage locker for my running club.  It turned out the others that were gonna help and already committed their time to organizing and distributing gifts at the Park Slope Christian Help Center (C.H.I.P.S.).

CHIPS is a soup kitchen and a shelter for homeless women and their newborns.
I never knew what was behind this mural
"Founded in 1972, CHIPS (a nonprofit charitable organization) has been dedicated to helping the poor, the needy, and the homeless as well as those in emergency situations. Also known as Park Slope Christian Help, CHIPS serves more than 70,000 meals annually and gives temporary shelter to more than 2,000 people each year. Located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, CHIPS is eternally grateful to the many individuals, churches, businesses, merchants, foundations and organizations, both local and nationwide who have helped make CHIPS what it is today."

Organizing and distributing is what I am good at.  There were hundreds a wrapped packages of socks, hats, gloves and "toiletries",  There were also many sized items like sweatshirts and briefs.

A meal was prepared by student chiefs from the New Your Tech Cooking School.  (In the end there was plenty of leftovers, it was yummy.)  After they ate the men lined up to get their gifts.  There were hundreds of people, they lined up in the cold for what they knew would be a good meal and "gifts" that they knew would be clothing that would be good for the rest of the winter.  Every single person was polite and  appreciative.  There was no sense of entitlement.

So first we put all unsized items in shipping bags and lined up the sized items by size.  After the men got a hot meal they gave us their ticket and we gave them their "present".

Sister Mary
When Sister Mary saw that we organized the presents for efficient distribution she was furious.  She did not want it to go fast.  She wanted each man to appreciate his gift.  She wanted it to be slow and disorganized.  Efficiency was not the goal of the day. She stormed away muttering  "This is Christmas, not a factory"

It felt nice to be yelled at by a nun.  At the end of the day she gave me a big hug and told me that I could come back any time to help.  I think I might.


  1. I spent the late 60's & 70's getting yelled at by nuns. I can't say I liked it. But guess it builds character.

    Happy Holidays.


You do not have to be nice!


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