Giving the Hungry A Hand: Michigan’s Helping Hand Series

Giving the Hungry A Hand: Michigan’s Helping Hand Series

I foresee the food coma already. If you ignore the Christmas music that has begun to encroach upon all areas of shopping, you can almost smell the turkey. (Read: tofurkey if you’re from a vegetarian family). This national holiday may be the only time of year when we truly give thanks for what we have in our lives. I, for one, am immensely thankful for the cutest kid on the planet, my dear Annabelle. She makes every day comical, sentimental, and a challenge. I am thankful for my up-cycling guru of a fiancé, Jake, who created this masterpiece for our dining room—goodbye tacky gold.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Battles
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Battles

I am thankful for our health, the roof over our heads, and our not-so-energy efficient furnace that keeps the bills up and the chills down. I will be even more thankful when we can afford a new furnace (and windows). I am thankful that, even when money is tight, we can still afford food. Food: it is necessary for survival. It is right up there with air which, if you ask any gas station when your tires are low, is not free. Part of the excitement of Thanksgiving is the abundance of delicious food. Thanksgiving may be stressful for some because they may not have the fifth pumpkin pie ready in time for their family feast, but it’s much more stressful for other families who don’t always know how they are going to feed their children on a regular night, let alone a holiday.

Attending a private school allotted me, and other students, the time and opportunities to give back to our communities. I remember volunteering at the downtown soup kitchen, collecting winter coats and hats for needy families, participating in food drives, and having $1 Jean Day Fridays where all the donations would go to a specific cause. One of those causes was Forgotten Harvest.

 

Photo courtesy of forgottenharvest.org
Photo courtesy of forgottenharvest.org

Forgotten Harvest is a wonderful way to get involved in the Metro Detroit area. This organization was founded to not only eliminate hunger in Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb counties, but to cut back on waste, too. According to their website, Forgotten Harvest “‘rescued’ more than 40 million pounds of food last year by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from 455 sources.” The food is then given to emergency food providers such as shelters and soup kitchens. Whether you, or a group, are looking to re-pack the warehouse on Greenfield in Oak Park (there are limited spots available for each event) or donate your finances, Forgotten Harvest is a beautiful investment. Statistically,“$1 provides 5 meals” to combat the 1 in 5 people who face hunger today. You know that you just found $1.72 in your couch cushions and another $2.35 in the washing machine. That’s $4.07 that you didn’t think you had which makes perfect donation money!

You don’t have to seek out organizations where its sole purpose is feeding the hungry. There are family-owned businesses that do their part too!

Photo courtesy of leonsrestaurants.com
Photo courtesy of leonsrestaurants.com

When I was growing up, Leon’s Family Restaurant was my parents’ and my after church spot for brunch. Their breakfast specials were, and still are, amazing. You can get eggs, meat, hash browns, and toast for under $3.00! You don’t have to pick just one. Leon’s was our first choice because they served everything at a reasonable price, and I loved the wall-to-wall clocks displayed. My personal favorite, at that time, was the Tweety Bird! All of the friendly staff knew the regulars, but most importantly, the owners knew their regulars. This year, on November 27, the Leon family (which consists of Sam and MaryAnn and their children Lena, Abe, Mary, and Noel) will continue a heartfelt tradition that began in 1991: they will serve upwards of 22,000 free turkey dinners. Anyone is welcome, and although most of the people who come out are in need, many regular patrons show their support as well. There will be a booth set up for donations, and 100 percent of the funds collected will be given to the Goodfellows. The free dinners are only given out at the Dearborn location on Michigan Avenue between Telegraph and Outer Drive, but employees from their other restaurants in Westland, Livonia, Garden City, Taylor, and Wixom relocate for the day to help.

Poke around your local area for soup kitchens, food banks, and special Thanksgiving events going on to help those in need at the start of this holiday season. Let’s not just give thanks; let’s give back.

– By Rebecca Battles, Contributing Writer