Though it was formed just over a year ago, a Brooklyn-based group known as Friends of HOW has been bring much holiday cheer to the less fortunate in the community.
According to Dr. Roxie Morris, the group’s Vincentian-born lead coordinator and founding member, Friends of HOW — Homeless, Orphans and Widows — distributed food, toiletries, toys and coats to the needy on Christmas Day.
“Christmas is about giving to others simply because God gave His best, His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, for the sins of the world,” said Dr. Morris, a Born-Again Christian, who serves as Youth Minister at the Miracle Temple Ministries, an evangelical church in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, whose congregants are primarily Jamaican and Vincentian.
“Following His example, we ministered to three shelters, special thanks to our exceptional caterers, Courtney and Glory Kirkland, Immanuel and Paula Aris,” added Dr. Irish, who with her husband, Stanley “Luxie” Morris, a St. Vincent and the Grenadines sports ambassador, toyed with the notion of forming the group soon after their marriage on April 6, 2019.
Dr. Irish, who is also founder and president of the United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn, said she and her team, on Christmas Day, distributed, at the unidentified shelters, “a finger-licking spread” of rice and peas; Spanish and spinach rice; mac and cheese; meat loaf; curried, baked and jerked chicken; ham; turkey; Rasta pasta; and yams.
“Those many pans of hot food were packed in take-out food containers; the many, many toys, donated by such generous individuals, were wrapped, labeled and packaged; the toiletries – toothbrushes and toothpastes – were placed in the decorated basket, ready for distribution; and we were excited to get on our way,” Dr. Morris told Caribbean Life.
“Arriving at the first shelter, the residents were all lined up and waiting expectantly,” she added. “The volunteers all got to work; and, with much love joy and unity, distributed food, toiletries, toys and coats to the needy.”
Simultaneously, Dr. Morris said her husband and fellow volunteer Ralphie Cunningham, also a Vincentian congregant at Miracle Temple Ministries, distributed food and clothing to residents at a men’s shelter.
Makeda Haywood, 10, a fifth grader at New Ameritech Academy, PS 770, in Brooklyn and the youngest volunteer on the team, accompanied her mom, Sherill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., and her aunt, Sharon Mason, along with Mason-Haywood’s Vincentian friends.
“We gave out food (lots of it), lots of toys, snacks, juices, water, cake and also toothbrushes and toothpaste,” the young volunteer said. “I was responsible for snacks.
“It made me feel good and sad, at the same time, to see so many people, especially the little kids,” she added. “But seeing that we were able to help those who are in need, and don’t have much, made me feel joyful on the inside.
“I will do the same thing next year, but will start much earlier, so that I can have more toys than I got,” Makeda continued. “I will even get some of my friends to do a toy drive and, maybe, we can have our own table. That will sure make me feel good. Maybe, I can be in charge again.
“It was a great learning experience for me altogether,” she said. “My mom said I should thank Aunty Roxie and also Uncle Stanley. So, I am thanking them.”
For Thanksgiving Day 2020, Dr. Morris said Friends of HOW were “even more determined to continue what we had started last year.”
She said the group hosted, on Oct. 24, a “Grab-and-Go Barbecue” in the Parking Lot at Miracle Temple Ministries, with proceeds going towards preparation for the feeding ministry.
Through Celloy “Leanne” Williams, Dr. Morris said Trisann Wade, the leader of the Mother’s Union at Williams’s church, the Church of the Epiphany and Saint Simon, “came on board with another volunteer from their group.”
Other volunteers were Ann Yvonne Franklin, Ralphie Cunningham, Perrie Allen, Pastor Wilson, Codi Bobb and Zachary Spence.
On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 2020, with packed take-out food containers, Dr. Morris said Friends of HOW served food, prepared by Ann Cunningham, Ralph Cunningham’s Grenadian-born wife; and Immanuel and Paula Aris; to an unidentified family, and a women’s and men’s shelter.
The menu comprised rice and peas, white rice, turkey, ham, chicken, sweet potatoes, Rasta Pasta and Lo Mein.
Besides she and her husband, Dr. Morris said volunteers with Friends of HOW comprises, among others, Jamaican Kimberle Thompson (Bible Verse Movement); Allen; Naydine Bascombe; Ralphie and Ann Cunningham; Cecile Sargeant and Tiffany Thomas.
“One of the residents asked, ‘why would you do this today being Christmas?’’ said Dr. Morris about the Christmas Day distribution. “Our response was, ‘Because God loves you and wants us to show you how He does.’”