The COVID-19 pandemic has been a hardship for many, but for the parishioners of St. James the Less it has also been a call to action.
Since March, when many people were forced to go into some kind of lockdown, St. James has actually increased its outreach activities. “From the earliest days of the pandemic, we felt it was important to continue our dedication to the charities we serve,” said Cheryl Smith, chair of St. James’s Outreach Committee. “Since April we have coordinated Mini-Midnight Runs, an organization we have been serving for over 20 years, with a core of volunteers doing the runs and many parishioners supplying food. Some months we have done as many as four or five runs.” Each run brought meals and clothing to at least 45 homeless people in New York City. A number of safety measures have been implemented, but the health protocols have hardly slowed down the relief delivered to the homeless on the streets of Manhattan.
As Christmas approaches, St. James the Less is once again doing cookie and gift drives for the three dozen kids at Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry. Smith said, “Our involvement with the Children's Village has also continued. Over the summer while the boys were in lockdown, we provided fun suppers of Italian wedges, pizza and other treats to brighten their days. Our recent gift drive and cookie drive made Christmas brighter and carried on another longtime tradition of caring and giving.”
Smith describes another ongoing outreach effort at St. James the Less: “We also have a diaper drive, which Diana Mitchell leads, that supports The Westchester County Diaper Bank. Diaper need is a silent crisis with parents often choosing between food, rent or buying diapers. We work to ease this burden three or four times a year by collecting hundreds of diapers.”
St. James parishioners also donate and serve food to the needy at Grace Church in White Plains and St. James Episcopal Church in the Fordham section of the Bronx.