November 14, 2012 - With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming fast, Lighthouse Emergency Services in Clarkston finds itself in need of help.
Volunteers Linda Kolody and Marla Taylor sort donations at the Lighthouse food pantry. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
"Fund raising has been a little slow – I always get worried about this time of year," said Connie Stapleton, manager of Lighthouse on Sashabaw Road in Independence Township. "But I'm surprised every year by the flood of food we receive at the end."
With five Thursdays in November, Thanksgiving's Nov. 22 date is earlier this year.
"People might have needed to get in mind the Thanksgiving season is already here this year," she said.
Food donations for Thanksgiving are needed by Nov. 16, with distribution on Nov. 19. Donations requested include gravy packets, canned fruit, box stuffing, pie crust and filling, and other canned and boxed food.
Lighthouse will distribute all the fixings for Thanksgiving turkey dinners to 260 local families in need, about 800 people.
Distribution will be at a new location this year – Clarkston Community Church. Lighthouse needed a new spot after the Knights of Columbus Hall on Maybee Road was sold.
"Clarkston Community Church graciously volunteered to allow distribution," Stapleton said.
On distribution day, volunteers will pack and organize the meals in the morning, with pick-ups in the afternoon.
For Christmas, Lighthouse has about 200 families with about 500 children in need of gifts. They request gift donations for children including teenagers, boys and girls, such as electric shavers, scrapbooking items, diaries, journals, board games for teens, and gift cards.
Christmas gift donations are needed by Sunday, Dec . 9. Lighthouse will be open on Dec. 9 from 12-2:30 p.m. for donations.
Donations are also needed for Lighthouse's ongoing food pantry program for people in need.
"The pantry is a little low," Stapleton said.
They need pantry staples, such as spaghetti, peanut butter and jelly, canned tuna, and other nonperishable items. The center uses monetary donations to buy items at local stores as well as relief agencies such as Gleaners, which provides food at a discount. Meijer's and other stores also have programs benefitting Lighthouse.
The Lighthouse organization, which is based in Pontiac, provides food, clothing, counseling, assistance with utilities, and other emergency services to thousands of people in southeast Michigan.
"It's rough – jobs are still very hard to find," Stapleton said. "And there are few jobs out there that pay well."
In the Clarkston area, the Sashabaw Road location provides food assistance to 700-800 people a month, with more expected in the winter after seasonal employment dries up.
For more information, call Lighthouse, 6330 Sashabaw Road, at 248-620-6116.
In downtown Clarkston and want to donate Christmas gifts or food to Lighthouse? Drop them off at The Clarkston News office, 5 S. Main Street. We'll collect gifts and non-perishable food donations and drop them off at Lighthouse on Dec. 7.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.