Giving Tree program to help local families

Nonprofit seeks donations for holiday program

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 23, 2021

 Donations for the Rochester Area Neighborhood House Giving Tree  program are being collected through Dec. 7.

Donations for the Rochester Area Neighborhood House Giving Tree program are being collected through Dec. 7.

Photo provided by the Rochester Area Neighborhood House


ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The community can help make Christmas magical by assisting local families in financial need.

Barb Cenko, the president of the Rochester Area Neighborhood House board of directors, said COVID-19 has added to the economic struggles of many families leading into the holiday season.

“The holidays can be a very stressful time, especially for families who are struggling financially,” she said in a statement.

As of October, the Neighborhood House has seen an 11% increase in the number of households it services.

The nonprofit provides rent and utility financial assistance, operates a food pantry and clothes closet, offers transportation services, provides counseling, and facilitates educational programs for families in need in Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township and Addison Township.

“Since October, we have provided over 5,400 services. This time last year, the total services were right around 4,000 — so there has been a 45% increase in the services that we are providing, and we are not even at the end of the year,” said Jeni Carino, the chief development officer for Neighborhood House. “The need is there. The need is not going away.”

There is an increased need, she said, for emergency financial assistance in the community.

“With the eviction moratorium being lifted, a lot of families are struggling to make rent. This holiday program will bring joy to those families who are really struggling with their daily needs,” Carino added.

Neighborhood House recently kicked off its holiday Giving Tree program, which includes the traditional trees in the community, as well as an electronic shopping option, to provide food, clothing and gifts for those in need.

The electronic Giving Tree allows donors to shop for hoodies, pajamas, gloves, mittens, scarfs, toys and gift cards for struggling families online from their homes and ship them directly to the Neighborhood House through Monday, Dec. 7. Information on how to order via the nonprofit’s Amazon Wish List is available at

Through Dec. 7, those who prefer to shop in stores themselves can drop off new toys and clothing at Retro Fitness, 637 N. Main St.; the Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Town Road; the Auburn Hills city manager’s office, 1827 N. Squirrel Road; Oakland Township Hall, 4393 Collins Road; and the Neighborhood House, 1720 S. Livernois Road.

Last year, 200 families with 450 children received clothing and gifts as part of the holiday gift program, and this year, organizers hope to serve many more.

“People are in a very giving spirit to help our neighbors in need,” Carino said.

The Neighborhood House is also working with local churches to facilitate the distribution of holiday food baskets for individuals and families in need. Last year, 355 families received a food basket.

Donations of nonperishable food items, gifts, cash and gift cards can be given anytime, because if the donations aren’t used immediately for the holidays, they can be put toward the food pantry program or other giving programs throughout the year.

“I am thankful for the continued outpouring of support from our community, which enables Neighborhood House to provide toys and clothing for local kids and food baskets for families. Together we bring joy and hope to many families,” Cenko said in a statement.

Rochester Area Neighborhood House’s administrative offices are located at 1720 S. Livernois Road. For more information, to volunteer or to make a donation, visit, call (248) 651-5836 or email