What is an Outreach Run?
An Outreach Run involves distributing helpful supplies and lending a caring ear to members of the homeless community. An Outreach Run typically lasts two hours.
The Outreach Run is about finding common ground between the housed and those experiencing homelessness through hearing from one of our Outreach guides and meeting our homeless neighbors. The Outreach Run is not the solution to ending homelessness, but promoting human exchanges, rather than just an exchange of goods, is the essence of the Outreach Run’s mission.
Planning and Execution:
- Donations: Decide what your group will distribute. It could be food, clothing, toiletries, or all three! Start contacting local businesses, family, and friends to ensure that you obtain enough materials for your group to distribute.
- Introductions (15 minutes): On the date of your Outreach Run, your group will meet with one of our Outreach Run guides before you begin. He or she will share some of his/her personal experiences with homelessness and discuss stereotypes and the leading causes of homelessness with the group. The guide will then instruct the group on the best practices for distributing donations and interacting with the people experiencing homelessness in the neighborhood.
- Donation Distribution (1 hour and 45 minutes): The guide will lead the group to nearby areas where people are in need. Participants will engage with the local people experiencing homelessness and offer them the donated goods.
In 1984, with horrible, dehumanizing poverty reaching new levels in New York City, a partnership was formed between members of a church in the suburbs and a homeless woman from Manhattan. These unlikely teammates shared the same goal—to help those who were less able to get to resources they desperately needed on the streets: food and clothing. Members of the church began making trips to Manhattan to pass out food and clothing directly to their homeless neighbors. More and more groups began joining; it is now a collaboration of over 150 community organizations called Midnight Run.
In 1987, students from Marquette University attended a National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness conference and were inspired by the group from New York City. A year later, they started their own midnight run program to meet the needs of Milwaukee’s homeless population.
The National Coalition for the Homeless began its own Outreach Runs in 2010.
Recommended Donation Items:
- Food: Try to make bagged meals of substance. Include a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a high protein snack, a juice box, and a dessert item. You may consider providing gift cards to restaurants and grocery stores that are accessible.
- Clothing: Try to collect all the essentials (coats, pants, shirts), but don’t forget socks, underwear, knit hats (men’s and women’s), gloves, and scarves. Socks, especially wool socks in the winter, are extremely popular!
- Toiletries: The most effective and easiest way to distribute toiletries is to make up small kits of unused hotel toiletries or travel-sized products. If you are coming from your hometown, call your local hotels seeking donations.
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Rain ponchos or compact umbrellas
- Hand warmer packets or long johns during the winter season
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (202) 462-4822 to set up a date and time for your Outreach Run. Please include your contact information, the size of your group, the ages of the participants, how you will be arriving, etc.
NCH Outreach Runs with NCH guides will take place in Washington, D.C.