AVRTHS guidance counselor continues holiday tradition of giving to the homeless

Ryan McCabe, a guidance counselor at Assabet Valley Regional Technical, has spent the last 15 years donating gently used warm clothing to the homeless on Boston Common as a family tradition. Photo/Submitted

Region – The holiday season often reminds people that there are those less fortunate, but few families go to the lengths that the McCabe family does to reach out to the homeless. Each year, Ryan McCabe heads to Boston Common with his parents, brothers, and respective spouses to hand out warm coats, hats, scarves, thick socks, and shoes.

“During December, there are a lot of different services, like soup kitchens and such, at many of the local churches, or by the water fountain, so we set up there and hand out what we'se all collected,” said McCabe, a sophomore guidance counselor at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. “We usually have several vehicles full of clothing, but it varies year to year.

“Sometimes we see the same faces, and it's sad that their circumstances haven's changed for the better, but it's nice to talk with them again, catch up on their families, and hear about their life stories. They have no pretensions, they'se just happy to have someone to talk with, and are appreciative of anything we'se able to give them.”

Most of the items are gently worn, but occasionally there are surprises, like the duffel bags full of brand new military dress shoes donated one year, or the Gideon bibles someone else brought.

McCabe has been involved in helping the homeless for about 15 years, since he was in high school and his family joined with another at their church to do community service.

The McCabes have now made it a family event, and last year it spanned to three generations as his 2-year-old son, Elliott, joined them.

“We always choose a Sunday in December, trying for clear weather, and we take any leftover donations to the Pine Street Inn so everything will somehow reach a needy person. It has just become woven into our family's Christmas traditions, so I guess we'sl be doing it for years to come. I know I look forward to it every year,” he added.