April 18, 2012 - The Oxford/Orion Fish Food Pantry's first Easter dinner give away proved a success, according to Pantry Manager Sandy Klersy
Sandy Klersy stands outside the Oxford Orion Fish Pantry off Thomas Road in Oxford Township. Photo by T. Keiser (click for larger version)
"Everybody that walked in and out of here was just so thrilled, that it was being offered," Klersy said "Not only did they get an Easter dinner, but if they had kids they actually got Easter Candy Baskets that were donated by Quest Diagnostics."
Everybody who came through the door was given an eight pound ham with all the fixing for a tasty Easter dinner. All the ham was donated by a gentleman she said. Typically in the past Fish has done Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but this year they decided to give up their Christmas for Easter instead.
"Everybody takes care of dinners at Christmas," Klersy said. "When I grew up Easter was huge, we got the new dress, the new bonnet, and the new shoes. It was a big thing in my family.
The Fish Food Pantry has been serving people since 1973 and never in the 39 years has anyone working it ever been paid. Their building was donated to them by Thomas Methodist Church for one dollar, so all they have to pay for are the utility bills.
Easter Baskets and Easter dinners were handed out at Oxford Orion Fish Pantry Photo provided (click for larger version)
Unlike other food pantries where customers are handed a box full of food, Fish is set up like a grocery store with shelves and aisles and shopping carts, so clients can pick and choose what food their family will actually eat.
"They have a certain amount of poundage they're allotted depending on how big their family is," Klersy said. "Our workers weigh it out and bag it up like a grocery store and then take it down the ramp to their cars. They bring their shopping carts back and there is no money exchanged except for 'thanks.'"
Besides food they also offer household items and toiletries.
"A lot of our clients this is all they have," she noted. "Even though they only come once a month they truly shop well enough to make it last throughout their month."
Eligilbility is based upon household income. Those who think they might be can visit the Pantry for a client review.
"If they look like they're eligible we bring them in and they automatically get food that day," Klersy added "Even if they say they're above our income level, we still give them food because we don't want anyone going with empty cupboards. That's our biggest thing."
Last month they serviced 173 households, 439 individuals, and gave out 13,895 pounds of food. Klersy said the surrounding area lends such great support to the pantry through their businesses, churches, and individuals who donate money and volunteer time.
"Lake Orion, Oxford, Leonard, and Addison residents are amazing in their businesses because I ask for something and it just shows up in droves," she said. "It's really neat and fun that way."
As for upcoming events Klersy is excited about the May 12 United State Postal Drive because all the food from Orion, Oxford, Leonard, and Addison get delivered to Fish and it fills their basement with food.
"You just leave the food hanging on your mail box and the carrier picks it up," she said "It amazes me still after all the years I've been here people keep donating."
Oxford Orion Fish Pantry is located at off Thomas Road at 487 First Street in Oxford Township.
Those interested in donating, volunteering or for more information can call 248-628-3933 or 248-628-5352 or visit www.oxfordorionfish.org or like them on Facebook.
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.