Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan has been feeding hungry people and nourishing communities for years. On Saturday (Feb. 18), more than 30 volunteers with Mitch Albom’s A Time to Help initiative contributed to the effort.
The volunteers — which included nearly a dozen National Honor Society students from nearby Fitzgerald High — gathered at Gleaners in Warren to spend the morning repackaging donated frozen carrots into two-pound bags.
Albom divided the group into three teams for a friendly competition to see which one could package the most. By the end of the two-hour shift, all combined, 3,480 pounds of carrots were packaged and boxed. According to Gleaners, the effort will impact nearly 3,000 lives. Working alongside the teams was Ken Brown, Albom’s radio show co-host on WJR (760AM)
“Last year we distributed 35.9 million pounds of food, and we have less than 100 employees,” said Sherree Gerzanics, who works Gleaners as a volunteer coordinator. “If not for the over 48,000 volunteers who came through our doors at all five sites, we couldn’t exist.
“What your group did today was great. We couldn’t do it without you.”
Detroit — When the Michigan Masons and Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation became large supporters of Mitch Albom’s S.A.Y. Detroit charities last fall, they stressed that their commitment would be more than financial.
They proved that once again on Saturday, January 21, when nearly three dozen Masons and their families joined Albom at The Detroit Water Ice Factory in downtown Detroit for an exclusive A Time to Help project.
For more than two hours, the volunteer group did a deep-cleaning of the store and its storage facilities, from scrubbing floors and windows to organizing items and products sold at the shop at One Campus Martius.
“This was two hours of good sweat,” said Bob Conley, who drove in for the event from Alma with his wife JoNeil. “We had Masons here from all over — Grand Rapids, Port Huron, St. Clair Shores and the Detroit area. We were really happy to be here and help Mitch. What S.A.Y. Detroit does with the (S.A.Y. Play) Center and with this and all of its outreach, it really is a place of hope. Being here today, I certainly see a rebirth in Detroit.”
Created by Albom, the DWIF opened its flagship location at 1014 Woodward Avenue on Aug. 4, 2015. The store follows the “Newman’s Own’’ model of philanthropy, offering a delicious frozen ice dessert – and other products — with the sole goal of raising funds to help others. All profits from the store benefits Detroit’s neediest citizens under Albom’s S.A.Y. Detroit umbrella of charities.
Patty Massman of Macomb Township didn’t know what to expect when she registered for the first time to volunteer at S.A.Y. Detroit’s annual Christmas party to benefit The Salvation Army’s shelter clients and their children.
By the end of her morning of service on Saturday (Dec. 3) at The Salvation Army Harbor Light in Detroit, Massman said her family was ready to sign up for next year’s event.
“This party is amazing,” Massman said of A Time to Help’s largest one-day volunteer effort of the year. “We’ll be doing more of these. To see all the smiles on all the children made it worth it. It was great how everyone came together.”
Led by S.A.Y. Detroit founder Mitch Albom — along with Albom’s radio show co-host Ken Brown — more than 100 volunteers gathered at the Ellen A. Thompson Center to help make the holiday special for more than 100 children and their mothers.
Hundreds of gifts were donated to stock the holiday store (thank you!). And the volunteer spirit was contagious: Some stepped in to serve the guests two meals (breakfast and lunch), while others helped pamper the mothers with massages and manicures as their children played games, danced, and engaged in other fun activities with other volunteers.
And of course, the highlight of the party was the arrival of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.
“I’ve volunteered for almost every party since it started in 1998,” said Ruma Barua of Belleville. “It started a long time ago when my son was in high school and needed community service hours. For me, I do it every year because it’s important to give back to the community where you live.
“As Mitch says, ‘It’s easy to write a check; giving is harder – but more fulfilling.’”
One down, more than a dozen to go.
Volunteers from A Time to Help spent last Saturday (Nov. 12) helping Motor City Blight Busters clear a city block of blight in the Brightmoor neighborhood on Detroit’s west side.
More than 40 volunteers — including some new faces and a group from Oakland County Children’s Village — spent the morning helping Blight Busters founder John George get another step closer to improving the neighborhood near Samuel Gompers Elementary-Middle School. One block was cleared on Saturday, and George has identified 13 more that Blight Busters hopes to tackle within the next year.
S.A.Y. Detroit donated a dumpster, and volunteers braved the chilly morning (32 degrees at start time) and came together to do what A Time to Help always does best — help others in need.
Thank you Generous Volunteers!
October 15, 2016 — Nearly two dozen volunteers from A Time to Help gathered Saturday morning in the kitchen of Trinity Lutheran Church in Utica to help produce and package Motown Soup’s quality soups and gift boxes.
All proceeds from the sale of the non-profit’s products benefits dozens of homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries in Michigan. When the final tally from the three-hour project was announced, Motown Soup staffers were pleased with the results: ATTH volunteers had produced and packaged 540 chicken noodle and 200 chicken pot pie soup mixes worth $5,000 for area charities.
The project featured a long-distance phone call from S.A.Y. Detroit founder Mitch Albom, who was put on speakerphone to welcome the group. Albom was in Haiti checking up on his orphanage/mission’s 39 children and staff members in the aftermath of the Oct. 4 hurricane that decimated the southern part of the country. Link here: http://www.freep.com/story/sports/columnists/mitch-albom/2016/10/15/mitch-albom-haiti-hurricane-matthew/92157460/
Information about A Time to Help’s Nov. 12 project will be posted this week.
Intermittent rain showers failed to dampen the spirit – or work ethic – of nearly two dozen A Time to Help Volunteers who participated in Saturday’s (Sept. 17) project at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Earthworks Urban Farm on Meldrum Street in Detroit.
Volunteers picked produce and performed other gardening chores inside a greenhouse, while another crew headed a couple of blocks down the street to Earthworks’ 2.5 acre organic farm, where plump ripe tomatoes and green beans were harvested.
The project was led by Ken Brown, Mitch Albom’s radio show co-host.
John Boyda, who has been volunteering for the past five years, said he looks forward to ATTH’s monthly projects because he said it’s his chance “help make the world a better place.”
“I get a lot of personal satisfaction and it helps me grow as a person,” Boyda said. “It’s the philosophy that Mitch always talks about, that you don’t have to do a lot, but every little bit helps when everybody pitches in together.”
The date for the next ATTH project is Oct. 15. The location and project will be announced soon on atimetohelp.org.