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Help is needed for OCEF: A Thanksgiving feast for all

by Susan Bromley

October 17, 2012

2011 OCEF food distribution.
Brandon Twp.- With Thanksgiving just four weeks away, the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund is asking for help in making sure all area residents have food to celebrate the holiday.

OCEF, the non-profit organization that provides a food pantry to service Brandon School District residents who are facing hard times, is collecting donations of food and money to purchase food items for the Thanksgiving distribution.

"The purpose of the holiday distribution is to give extra food, because that is when the kids are home (on school break)," said OCEF President Karyn Milligan-Thompson. "For the holiday distribution, we try to give them a week to 10 days of food. We try to get as much food as we can into the home to take care of the kids who are not getting free and reduced lunch at school that week."

OCEF currently has about 130 families visiting the food pantry monthly. In any one given month, providing food for families needing assistance is a $7,000-$8,000 endeavor for OCEF. During the holiday season, the number of families seeking help from OCEF increases. Last Thanksgiving, OCEF served about 200 families. Milligan-Thompson expects that number to increase this year.

To help meet the need, OCEF is seeking donations of the following items: 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.

Volunteers are also needed for the Thanksgiving food sort, planned for 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 18 and for the packing of food which begins at 8 a.m., Monday, Nov. 19 and the distribution to clients, starting at 3 p.m. All volunteer activities take place at St. Anne Church, 825 S. Ortonville Road. Last year, about 340 volunteers were needed to accomplish both Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday distributions.

"Even in these really, really hard times, we have always by the grace of God and the grace of this community been able to make it work and take care of our families," said Milligan-Thompson. "Some of the first people who call to volunteer are the clients. They are so eager to give back in any way they canů We love new faces, too and as the volunteer coordinator I love sharing the experience with someone new, neighbor helping neighbor. It's very rewarding. We become like a big family, all working toward one goal— assisting people who are down on their luck at the current time."

Food 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, where checks can also be mailed, made payable to OCEF. Bueche's gift cards can also be dropped off at the church. To learn how to volunteer, call Karyn at 248-245-4553 or e-mail karynmil@comcast.net.