R.O.C.K’s Midnight Runs a Success

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Over winter break, leader of Rockaway Beach’s R.O.C.K (Reaching Others Creating Kindness) youth organization, Kathleen Woods, kept teens busy by reminding them what the holiday season is all about. On Monday, December 23, and Friday, January 3, Woods had the youth group join St. Dominic’s Outreach in Brooklyn, to help the homeless throughout New York City in what they call, “Midnight Runs.”

On these Midnight Runs, students and some parents, as well as former St. Francis de Sales’ Associate Pastor, Fr. Jomar, distributed food, clothing, and toiletries to the homeless. By getting the R.O.C.K involved with St. Dominic’s Outreach, Woods taught her students the importance of neighboring parishes coming together to give to those in need. The R.O.C.K has joined St. Dominic’s Outreach on a Midnight Run in the past, but these two runs were incredibly successful because Woods was able to gain the most support from teens, as well as their parents, than ever before.

St. Dominic’s Outreach organized the places and routes where the youth group went to distribute the items. Woods commends the volunteers at St. Dominic’s Outreach on their continuous and generous work each week to make sure the homeless have a home cooked meal, or a new article of clothing. She expresses her gratitude for St. Dominic’s Outreach for letting the R.O.C.K join in their Midnight Runs. “We were so blessed to be a part of their mission and we are looking forward to helping them in the future.” Woods says their participation also served as a reminder to her students to keep “Christ” in Christmas.

 Although the program focuses on distributing items to those less fortunate, the students who attended the Midnight Runs made an effort to speak to the homeless, spreading holiday cheer. Some even joined along singing Christmas carols when one man started to sing. Fr. Jomar was touched by the youth effort to show the best of humanity, claiming, “The generosity of the kids and their sense of humility to be able to serve people whom they never met before was truly touching to witness.”

The R.O.C.K youth organization is a program dedicated to service, prayer, and leadership. These Midnight Runs are not the only events Woods has organized. She actively looks for different service projects and activities in order to continuously keep her students involved throughout the community. As well as organizing various events throughout the peninsula, she runs prayer and discussion groups during the week, where students can pray for someone special to them, or feel free to talk about whatever is important to them within their lives. With this youth program, Woods strives to create a space where teens can share and express their faith with one another.

The R.O.C.K is open to all St. Francis de Sales parishioners in grades seven and eight. Woods highly encourages more teens to come and join the R.O.C.K. “We’re all called to serve others and I believe it’s vital for our teens to live their faith through action,” Woods said.  She teaches her teens, not just through the activities she organizes with the R.O.C.K, but by being a leader by example. You can find her at St. Francis de Sales where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, as well as often volunteering at church events, such as helping out with the CCD religious education program.

The Midnight Runs on December 23 and January 3 proved to be successful in not only helping those in need, but as well as teaching teens within the Rockaway community the importance of giving back to others. And they aren’t finished. “We’re planning to do more Midnight Runs in the future, and we’d love for parishioners to take part in this incredible event,” Woods said.

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