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February 27, 2013

Salvation Army Bed and Bread Radiothon at Oakland Mall raises $1.3 million

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Salvation Army Bed and Bread Radiothon at Oakland Mall raises $1.3 million
From left, Macomb Township resident Bob Hughes takes a $1,000 donation while Beverly Hills resident Phil Schmitt and Rochester resident Sue Rataj wait for phones to ring at the Salvation Army’s 26th annual Bed & Bread Club Radiothon at Oakland Mall Feb. 22.

The red and white trucks go through distressed Detroit neighborhoods every single day of the year.

Often, the food passed out from the Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club trucks is the only food some people will eat that day — people who stand at the stops waiting for the three trucks to make the scheduled rounds, said Maj. Monty Wandling of the Salvation Army Royal Oak. Those who wait for the trucks are all ages and include single moms, he said.

The Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club feeds approximately 5,000 people each day and provides shelter to, on average, 565 people each night of the year, Wandling said.

The meals served on the trucks consist of a sandwich, fruit, a beverage, soup in the winter months and a snack. In addition, the Bed & Bread Club provides food to a number of homeless shelters in metro Detroit.

This year, the Salvation Army’s 26th annual Bed & Bread Club Radiothon, held Feb. 22 at Oakland Mall in Troy — partly during a morning snowstorm — raised more than $1.3 million through phone contributions, onsite donations, and for the second year, tweets.

WJR on-air personalities Paul W. Smith, Frank Beckmann, Mitch Albom and Bed & Bread Club Chairman and retired Detroit radio personality Dick Purtan broadcasted live during the 16-hour radiothon.

One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to the Salvation Army’s Bed & Bread program, Wandling said. “It’s the primary source of funds.”

As part of the Tweetathon, in its second year, Ford Motor Co. donated $3 for each tweet that used the Bed & Bread hashtag. The Ford Motor Co. Fund donated $50,000 for this year’s event. The Tweetathon garnered more than 10,400 tweets. By 10:30 a.m., four and a half hours into the event, there were 1,089 contribution tweets.

Beverly Hills resident Phil Schmitt, also supervisor in Southfield Township, has volunteered his time to answer phones during the event for the past 20 years. The largest donation he’s ever taken was from a couple getting married, who donated $4,000 to the Radiothon in celebration of their marriage. “They gave it to each other as their wedding gift,” he explained.

“I feel privileged to be able to help,” he said.

The largest donation hour of the 2013 event raised $163,832 between 8-9 p.m., thanks to a $25,000 match by Dick and Gail Purtan, according to the Salvation Army website. Also, Garden Fresh Gourmet of Ferndale donated $67,000, including a $1,000 matching gift from John and Shelly Latella. John is chief operating officer of Garden Fresh and serves on the Bed & Bread committee.

“We are overwhelmed with the tremendous generosity that residents and corporations across metro Detroit have demonstrated for our Bed & Bread program,” said Maj. Mark Anderson, general secretary and metro Detroit area commander for The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division, in a prepared statement.

To donate, call (800) 725-2769 or visit www.bedandbreadclub.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.