August 21, 2013 - Oxford/Orion FISH celebrated 40 years of "neighbors helping neighbors" this past Sunday
Lynne McLoskey talks about the different donations that people give. (click for larger version)
"We help a lot of people in the community and they're very, very grateful," said Fish Volunteer Sue Hackstock. "They come monthly for their food and seem to appreciate what we do for them and we're happy to do it."
For the past 40 years FISH has been a totally non-profit organization that has offered emergency food for individuals, families and senior citizen in Oxford, Lake Orion Leonard and Addison Tonwships. Last month they served 150 households, 320 individuals and gave out 10,825 pounds of food. In 2012 they took 4,058 calls, served 436 families, 1,156 individuals and gave out 169,269 pounds of food.
Not only do they allow those needing assistance to shop at their food pantry every month, but FISH also gives out holiday baskets at Thanksgiving and Easter and gives out backpacks filled with school supplies to students before the beginning of the school year.
This year's school backpack program was held on Aug. 17.
Laurene Badwill gets some tasty treats from the dessert table. Photos by Trevor Keiser. (click for larger version)
"We packed 110 backpacks for kids in high school, middle school and elementary that received backpacks full of wonderful school supplies that were donated by the community," said Volunteer Lynn Kennis.
The backpacks included three-ring-binders, crayons, colored pencils, markers, hi-lighters, notebooks, scissors, pencil cases, paper, and erasers.
Another important aspect of FISH is the Oxford Community Garden of Lakeville Road, which volunteer Sue Black is a part of.
"We have lots of food and clients can come and grow their own food and maintain their own garden. Then we maintain other plots and they bring that produce here (to FISH) and they're welcome to use that produce. It does not get weighed so it's basically free to them (shoppers)," Black said. "That's been a great program."
The thing that makes FISH so special is that it is run on all non-paid volunteers, said Lynne McLoskey.
"I just think it's wonderful that so many people volunteer and do it out of the goodness of their heart," she said. "For 17 years, I've been with Fish. It's just been a wonderful experience meeting people that are just dedicated to helping their neighbor."
Another blessing, noted McLoskey was getting their current location at 487 First Street in the Thomas Road area for $1 from Oxford First United Methodist Church.
"To see what it's become," she said. "I think they're (the church) really thrilled that what they built in 1948 has become such a center in the community."
As far as volunteers go, McLoskey said they're always looking for more. To volunteer or for more information about FISH call 248-628-3933 or 248-628-5352 or visit oxfordorionfish.org
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.