Need started arriving with the dawn, more than two hours before a volunteer would push open the metal door and invite the first people inside.
On foot they came. Pushing shopping carts and baby carriages they came. One woman bought a baby in a stroller covered with layers of blankets.
“Some of these people are out here at six in the morning,” said Tami Hollins, a volunteer.
Awaiting them inside the Church of St. Mary on South Street are the agents of survival: clothing, food and other necessities.
Every third Friday St. Mary’s opens its doors to hundreds of Newburgh’s poor – seniors, single mothers, veterans, the disabled. This past Friday dozens of volunteers handed out foodstuffs that included turkeys, whole chickens and canned and dry goods.
Those who braved the cold wait also found baby formula, housewares, tables filled with donated clothing and a rack with winter coats.
“In Newburgh, you got a lot people with a lot of heart and a lot of people with a lot of need. You just need the sweat to bring it all together,” said Marietta Allen, who coordinates the collection of donations and the distribution.
People still waited in line about 11:30 a.m., three hours after the start. Inside a large gymnasium, as many as 60 volunteers manned tables that wound around the perimeter.
Basic services are part of the mix. There are lawyers to answer legal questions, county agencies such as the Department of Health, medical providers giving blood-pressure screenings and someone there to help military veterans.
Allen pulls out slips of paper where she has documented requests for furniture.
“We get a lot of furniture delivered,” she said. “We try to match the furniture to people who need it.”
Requests for blankets and comforters are popular right now. In addition to those items, Allen is seeking donations of money, clothing, food, housewares and other items.
Call her at 566-1425. To make a money donation, checks can be made out to the Church of St. Mary. On the memo line write “outreach/veterans.”