For a decade, hundreds of volunteers from a Greek Orthodox church have carpooled every month to New York City, where they set up an outdoor dining room to feed dozens of homeless.
Packing as much food, clothing and toiletries as possible into four or five cars, volunteers from the Holy Trinity Church in New Rochelle show up in Midtown Manhattan on the last Thursday of each month to distribute dozens of meals for those in need.
Despina Kartson, an NY-based marketing executive, author and philanthropist, leads her fellow congregants on each soup run — which takes place whether rain or shine.
“We show respect and compassion to our guests on the street and offer them a bit of sustenance for their bodies and non-judgmental conversations to nourish their hearts,” Kartson said.
She recently published a book about the program, called “Last Night’s Soup Run.” The book tells the stories of the many homeless men and women who have benefitted from it.
Explaining the title, Kartson said that the morning after every soup run she sends an email called “Last Night’s Soup Run” to volunteers and supporters. In her email, she summarizes highlights from the previous evening, offering glimpses into the lives of the homeless served.
But this movement has not only turned into a book.
Kartson’s volunteer experience led her to found Philoxenia, a charity which provides funding and support for organizations that feed the hungry and care for the homeless.
She said that — even after 10 years — the church’s volunteers have never been asked to leave their monthly spot on the corner of 33rd Street and 7th Avenue across from Madison Square Garden.
“Police and security guards have stopped by to see what we were doing,” she said. “And they have never asked us to pack up our tables or to move our cars.”
Kartson’s book “Last Night’s Soup Run” is available on Amazon and all proceeds go toward Philoxenia.
Pappas Post Publisher Gregory Pappas spent an evening with Kartson during a recent soup run where he interviewed her and met the people that her group serves.
Watch the video
Filmed, edited and directed by Julia Lockshin
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