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OCEF seeking help for holidays

More than 175 area families in need of assistance

November 06, 2013 - Karyn Milligan believes there comes a time in every life where the help of another is needed.

That help may come from a willingness to listen, a hug, a prayer, or even the most basic nourishment—food.

"Asking for help is extremely hard for a lot of people, but there is no shame in it, because I truly believe that everyone runs into a hard time at some point in their lives," said Milligan.

As the food pantry director for the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund, Milligan is requesting help as she seeks to assist more than 175 struggling, low-income families in the Brandon School District at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

OCEF provides a food pantry year-round for families needing help, but as the holidays approach, increased donations are essential for providing Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. OCEF volunteers strive to give each family applying for help the following items: cake mix; cereal; canned fruit; peanut butter; macaroni and cheese; canned soup; canned vegetables including corn and green beans; canned gravy/broth; pie crust mix; stuffing mix; frosting; cranberry sauce; Jell-O/pudding; jelly; muffin/quick bread mix; canned tuna; evaporated milk; pasta; canned pumpkin; toilet paper; and paper towels.

Donations of Bueche's gift cards in the amount of $15 are also needed, as they are given to each family for the purchase of meat and cash donations are also welcome.

"We've had many years where the number of families needing help were so high that we had to take from the pantry or go and buy food so that everyone gets the amount of food that is allocated for the number of members in their family," said Milligan. "The one thing you can count on is that food never goes to waste over at our pantry. For Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, we are trying to give them enough food to make a meal for one holiday. At Christmas, we try to do more because the kids are home (from school) for that holiday."

An OCEF food donation box is located at Bueche's Food World, 400 N. Ortonville Road. Donations can also be dropped off at St. Anne Church, 825 S. Ortonville Road, where monetary donations can also be mailed to in the form of a check made out to OCEF. Many other local churches, businesses and schools also participate in the food drive and may accept donations on behalf of OCEF. Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union, 4 South St., in downtown Ortonville, will also receive Bueche's gift cards for OCEF.

The Thanksgiving food distribution to clients is planned for Nov. 25. Volunteers are needed for food sorting at 1 p.m. Nov. 24, and for packing food bags at 8 a.m., Nov. 25. Milligan hopes to see volunteers of all ages. She recalls one very poignant holiday years ago when a Boy Scout helped sort food for the Thanksgiving distribution. He approached Milligan with a can of mixed vegetables in his hand and pointed out that it wasn't just corn, nor just green beans, and asked her where the can should be put.

"It made me cry," she remembered, "because he took such ownership of the can and he was bound and determined it would make it to the right place. He said, 'I am pretty sure that can came from my classroom at school, where we collected food.' It's stories like that which are embedded in my brain and heart… This community is so unique. It's the most generous, caring community ever. I get touched every single, solitary day by new and creative ways that people share and come together."

For more information on donations or to volunteer, call Karyn Milligan at 248-627-3965, ext. 103.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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