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OCEF expects to assist 180 families with Easter dinner



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March 26, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- St. Patrick's Day turned out to be green indeed for the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund.

The non-profit food pantry which serves families in need in the Brandon School District received more than $3,000 in donations in its annual "Sharin' O' the Green" drive. This was the fifth year of the annual event, in which the community's donations were matched by a single, anonymous donor. OCEF's benefactor died last year, but bequeathed money to OCEF for the sole purpose of continuing the matching drive in March, a month when donations are typically down for the organization.

"We made it," said OCEF Treasurer Margaret Lee, of reaching the $3,000 goal. "This is such a wonderful community and everyone pulls together, it's just amazing. Now we have to knuckle down and get the Easter distribution done."

OCEF expects to assist 180 families with Easter dinner, as well as food for children home on spring break that usually have free and reduced breakfasts and lunches provided at school. Money donated through "Sharin' O' the Green" will help with the Easter distribution, but the community can help again by making both food and monetary donations, which will be used for the purchase of $30 Bueche's gift cards so needy families can purchase meat and other fresh items.

Items needed include cake mix; frosting; cereal; canned fruit; Jell-O/pudding; peanut butter; jelly; macaroni and cheese; muffin/quick bread mix; canned soup; tuna; canned vegetables including corn, green beans and peas; bagged candy; egg dye; toilet paper; and paper towels.

Food donations can be left in the OCEF box at Bueche's Food World, 400 N. Ortonville Road, or at St. Anne Catholic Church, 825 S. Ortonville Road. Donations for the Easter distribution should be received by noon, Sunday, April 13. Volunteers will sort and pack food bags the morning of April 14, for distribution that afternoon to families.

Karyn Milligan, OCEF food pantry director, said it has been a long, difficult winter for many families in the community who receive assistance, particularly because of higher heating bills and a reduction in assistance from the state for low-income families.

"At the end of 2013, there was another reduction in food stamps and we knew that it would take a month or two to see that fall out and that is just what we are beginning to see now," said Milligan. "Some of them are finding they wish they could visit the food pantry more than once a month, but we budget everything for one time a month, we don't have the funds for more frequent visits."

It costs OCEF roughly $7,000 per six-week period to help feed families in need in the community that are active clients. The amount of food each family receives depends on the number of people in the family, but is enough to last about one week out of the month.

The pantry has been maintained by the community since 1982.

"If you think of how many people who have come through our door that we have been able to help, it's mind-boggling," said Milligan. "We are supported lovingly and graciously by people in this community. There is no such thing as 'only' $1, or 'only' a can of corn. Everything counts, everything goes, and everything is appreciated. The clients are very touched and very, very grateful."

To volunteer, call Karen Kubik at 248-627-3965, ext. 102 or e-mail

ocef@churchofstanne.org.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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