Sidewalk Samaritan started with the simple act of purchasing and handing-out socks to the unhoused people who populated the sidewalks and subways of NYC. Aside from sharing a smile, Emily, our current President and Founder, would talk with people who were rarely asked by anyone else to share their stories and needs. When requests for other items started expanding past the funds Emily personally had available, her friends, family and colleagues donated money for the purchase of additional items. She could then start handing-out toiletries, blankets, shirts, hats and gloves, or even food. Other people who heard what she was doing sent boxes of donated used coats, shoes and clothes in good repair that they had collected. Sometimes, large boxes of new socks anonymously showed up at the door of her apartment. Finally, in a big step forward towards our organization as it exists today, a donation of time and expertise by Fordham Law School students and professors enabled Sidewalk Samaritan to become a registered not-for-profit.
Since then, Sidewalk Samaritan has grown and been able to create working relationships with other not-for-profits such as Blessing Bag Brigade, Soles 4 Souls, The Undies Project, Pace Cares, and I Support the Girls, along with companies that directly donate items for the homeless and needy such as Bombas and The Empowerment Plan. In addition, community groups in the small upstate NY town where Emily grew up have banded together to collect and sort clothes, shoes, blankets, backpacks and other essential items. Individuals offered to sew and donate protective masks when COVID-19 hit. Neighbors in NYC donate clothes and lend a helping hand in storing and loading the huge quantity of items that are handed-out on a regular basis. New Yorkers who walk by or hear of the efforts of Sidewalk often help us collect items that are in great need.
So, our story is how the effort of one person that started with just some store-bought socks has generated a network of people and companies extending all over the United States who generously and graciously donate their time, expertise and money to making the lives of NYC’s unhoused population a little more comfortable and safe. This web of kindness that aids hundreds of people in need also enriches the lives of those who give, and we believe that's why Sidewalk Samaritan has built a community that is so passionate about lending a helping hand.