The Tumblr post caught Paulette Thomas’ attention around Thanksgiving.
“Have you ever come across a homeless individual and felt totally uncomfortable?” it began.
The post, which has been shared multiple times across the social network, struck a chord with Thomas, a junior majoring in Information Science at Fordham College at Rose Hill.
Inspired by its message of charity and good will, Thomas and five friends will fan out across the city on Dec. 23 to deliver “Blessing Bags” to homeless people they encounter on the street.
Each bag will contain toiletries, snacks, a change of socks, spare change, and other useful items.
“I always have this thing where I just want to give back,” Thomas said.
“I knew that I had already missed Thanksgiving, so Christmas time was coming, and I thought, ‘Maybe I should do something with my friends.’ It would be better than just hanging out.”
Thomas, members of her family, and Fordham volunteers will assemble the bags at the McGinley Center on Saturday, Dec. 21. On the following Monday they will split into teams that will visit areas around shelters in the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan at 7:30 p.m.—after the shelters have closed their doors for the night.
That way, Thomas said, the teams can reach homeless late-strayers (who are left out) before they retreat to alternate encampments for the night. The plan is to distribute 100 bags at a total cost between $600-700. Supplies have been purchased with personal funds, along with $200 that Fordham’s Department of Academic Records has donated to the project.
A native of Washington Heights, Thomas commutes by bus to the Rose Hill campus from Parkchester in the Bronx. In high school, she helped pack bags that were distributed in a “Midnight Run,” but this is her first time organizing the Blessing Bag project. Living in the Bronx is enough to spur you into action, she said.
“I see everything that goes on here firsthand,” she said. “You know, it just hurts that we live here, and we don’t do enough about it, and we have resources enough to do so. So why not, what’s it really going to cost us?” she said.
“At the and of the day, we have constant jobs and we have things that that we’ll be able to replace later on, because we have stability in our lives compared to others who have nothing.”
Anyone wishing to help can contact Thomas at pthomas17