TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Regardless of the time of year or weather conditions, a grassroots group of volunteers mobilize weekly to support people in the local community who are experiencing a need. Established in 2021, Sidewalk Warriors Troy has been providing essentials and food on Thursdays and serves upwards of 100 people weekly.
“In April, we celebrated our first anniversary,” said volunteer Nick Francella. “During the summer, we saw over 150 people regularly, but now as the temperature goes down, we see maybe 120.”
Sidewalk Warriors Troy, recently designated a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, welcomes everybody in the community, no questions asked. Tables are set up at 35 State Street in front of the Christ Church Troy United Methodist. Lines start forming at 5 p.m., and distribution begins at 6 p.m.
“We offer necessities such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and shampoo, and during the winter, we have warm items for our friends like coats, gloves, and boots,” said Francella. “All of the donations come from volunteers. We also have partnerships with businesses in the community that match food donations. Robin Ford, the organizer of Sidewalk Warriors Troy, posts regularly on Facebook and provides Amazon links to things we need, and people immediately help purchase things.”
In addition to food items and necessities, Francella says the organization tries to fulfill different requests. “If anyone asks us for something, we try and provide as much as we can. Sometimes we do prepaid cell phones or prepaid bus passes. A few months ago, we had a friend that was enrolled in college courses, and we were able to provide them with a laptop. We really try to provide everything and anything that we can.”
Francella says that they are gearing up for the holidays and saw a good turnout in 2021. “Last year, we had Santa, and children could come to take pictures. We also had a huge row of toys that children could choose from.”
“This year, we have already adopted all of our families,” said Ford. “So anybody that is part of our group, we have already taken the opportunity to get their lists and be able to buy for their families. Every child will get a wish item and a need item, and then we always ensure that they have boots, coats, and clothing.”
Around Thanksgiving, the group relocated to 35 State Street, down the street from their distribution site at the St. Anthony of Padua Church Troy parking lot. Ford says the transition has been a huge success. “One of the reasons we chose the Christ Church UMC was the belief systems of what they do. The church converts to a Code Blue, which shows the church recognizes the importance of helping those who truly need a hand up, and that is really remarkable. They were more than willing to give us space, and it has been a perfect fit for us.”
“It has been a pleasure to have some wonderfully positive energy,” said Paul Sweet, pastor of Christ Church UMC. “It is a pleasure to engage with Sidewalk Warriors Troy and try to amplify the work that they are doing.”
Sidewalk Warriors Troy welcomes anyone willing to help. Those interested in volunteering can visit the website for more information or show up the day of. The setup begins at 4:30 p.m. Those looking for donation lists can check the website weekly or stay up-to-date via Sidewalk Warriors Troy’s Facebook.