There’s Goodness All Around
“If you had anything to do with this, thank you.”
67-year-old John took just a few seconds to pause from his dancing in the streets of downtown Washington D.C. to share his thoughts with the Samaritan’s Feet team. He added, “I’m enjoying this immensely.”
Just moments before, John had received a new pair of shoes, food items, a sleeping bag, and toiletries from the Washington D.C. Police Foundation volunteers. The police blocked off the street in front of the Federal City Homeless Shelter on 2nd Street, just a half a mile away from the Capitol building. Music filled the small street as a DJ aired “go-go” hits, a music subgenre originating in Washington D.C. in the 1960s and 1970s.
Many couldn’t help moving to the music after they received their shoes and gave thanks to the volunteers cheering them on.
“Thank you, we appreciate it. I hope to see things like this continue—the music and everything. It’s hard out here, but this is fun. You have no idea what this means to me. I just want to enjoy the day out here. It’s just so good to see everyone come out here together, especially after Covid and all that,” said a recipient, Daniel.
Another man said, “the day has been great so far.” And a woman in a wheelchair added, “I’ll boogie till it hurts.”
Around 100 people lined up outside the shelter, and the crowd continued to trickle in as over 200 were served that day, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
“Many people here have shoes that don’t fit, some folks don’t have shoes at all, so just knowing that there are people out here who are compassionate, who want to do something nice for them, really gives them that feeling of happiness—that other people are looking out for them,” said Patrick Burke, Executive Director, Washington D.C. Police Foundation.
At one point during the event, a woman wasn’t sure of her correct shoe size. A volunteer quickly began helping her, measuring her foot so that she would have the proper size and be comfortable and proud in her new shoes.
“When anyone is taking time out of their day to be kind and to support and serve, it just makes everybody’s day a little bit brighter,” said Rebecca Schwartz, Director of Development and Operations, Washington D.C. Police Foundation.
This event was one of two that was collaborations between the D.C. Police Foundation, D.C. Police Department, Samaritan’s Feet, Walmart, Bombas, and Colgate. The other event was just across the Anacostia River at Martha’s Table, an organization that supports Washingtonians with access to needed resources like food and clothing.
Music filled the air once again, creating contagious smiles and giggles from everyone around. It wasn’t long before an upbeat song played with the lyrics “dancing on your happy feet.”
And dance, they did.
Officers and Cadets from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of the District of Columbia, were serving at this event and formed a double line for recipients and guests to dance through, encouraging kids to show off their moves as they walked through.
Two brothers, kindergarten and 2nd grade, danced with no hesitation, teaching others their skills. Their grandmother, who brought the two superhero fans, stood at the edge of the dance floor (A.K.A. parking lot), smiling and clapping them on. The younger brother later revealed he wanted to be a police officer.
“Serving today meant a lot to me because you never know what somebody might be thinking. Little kids might see you and say, ‘I want to do that too.’ And hopefully that can inspire them to also inspire their children,” said Jemel Thomas, Washington Police Cadet. “You just never know, small things can go far.”
One volunteer recalled a moment where they gave a simple bottle of water to a child. A few minutes later, the child came back and thanked her with a hug. There was a clear feeling of generosity and kindness in the air in Washington D.C.
“There is goodness all around that we don’t see all the time,” said Schwartz.
Towards the end of the event, a family of five arrived in a taxi to pick up their new shoes. They came eagerly and excitedly, despite the rainstorm that snuck up and the commute they had to make. Everyone left with smiles.
These events cultivated an atmosphere of normalcy, of simple joy, where goodness was not only seen, but experienced.
“[Doing good] is really at the heart of police work. Instead of looking at it as a police force, it’s a police service. Serving the public. Treating others as you would like to be treated. There are still so many good things that are done on a daily basis and this event illustrates the efforts that are being done on a daily basis,” said Burke.
Ready to help us create more stories of hope and inspiration just like this?
Check out the video of our time in DC: