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Help needed: Community gears up for OCEF Thanksgiving distribution

by Susan Bromley

October 26, 2011

Volunteers at the 2010 OCEF Thanksgiving distribution.
With the holidays quickly approaching, the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund is in need of help, and not just with donations.

"We are absolutely desperate for volunteers," said OCEF President Karyn Thompson. "Everyone is under such stress that we are finding it really hard to fill some spots. It's just rough."

On average, about 130 families in the Brandon School District have been visiting the OCEF food pantry monthly to receive free assistance this year. The families comprise between 450-500 individuals in the community. In November and December, those numbers will increase as families seek assistance in having a Thanksgiving meal and both food and gifts at Christmas. Last year, OCEF served about 240 families in need for the holidays.

Additionally, Thompson expects to see in the next few months the fallout from state welfare changes that took effect Oct. 1 and in general, the non-profit organization is trying to grow OCEF membership.

OCEF meetings take place at 6:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at St. Anne Church, 825 S. Ortonville Road. The next meeting will be Nov. 2.

Thompson is currently hoping to gather volunteers for the Thanksgiving food sort, planned for Nov. 20, as well as the food distribution on Nov. 21. Donations of the following items are also needed: cake mix and frosting; canned fruit; cereal; cranberry sauce; evaporated milk; Jell-O/pudding; peanut butter; jelly; gravy/broth; pasta; macaroni and cheese; stuffing mix; muffin/quick bread mix; canned soup; tuna; corn; green beans; other canned vegetables; toilet paper; and paper towels. Also requested are $15 Bueche's gift cards, which can be used to purchase meat and other fresh items.

Donations can be dropped off at Bueche's Food World, 400 N. Ortonville Road, at local businesses or schools with collection boxes, or at local churches, including St. Anne Church, 825 S. Ortonville Road.

To learn how to volunteer, call Karyn at 248-245-4553 or e-mail at karynmil@comcast.net or call Gwen Koss at 248-627-3965, ext. 103.