Kids at the “Breakfast in Whoville” fundraiser Dec. 3 got to help out a good cause while having some fun, like limboing with the Grinch.

Kids at the “Breakfast in Whoville” fundraiser Dec. 3 got to help out a good cause while having some fun, like limboing with the Grinch.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Christmas fundraiser brings in $67,000 for those in need

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published December 17, 2023


TROY — A local nonprofit recently gathered community members together for some holiday-themed fun to raise money to help those in need.

United Community Family Services, formerly known as the Chaldean American Ladies of Charity, hosted its Breakfast in Whoville fundraiser Dec. 3. It took place at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield. Those attending got to stroll through a small-business marketplace, take home some prizes and dance with the Grinch.

Melissa Siva, the event coordinator with UCFS, called the event a great success.

“Today is our Christmas in Whoville event. It’s basically two events in one day, where we first have a breakfast with Santa, and then we also have a lunch with Santa. Both are fundraisers for our organization. … Our three main events each year are our Exceptional Easter event, also here at Shenandoah Country Club; our gala; and this Breakfast in Whoville event. It went really well. We surpassed all of our goals, and it’s the most we’ve ever gotten in general. … We raised at least $67,000.”

The event began in 2018 as a way for members of the United Community Family Services to celebrate the holidays with their families, since most events are focused on their clients and those seeking help. However, it was expanded into a public fundraiser in 2019 after the first year was so popular.

“We have craft stations going on. We have photos with Santa. We have activities with the Grinch on the stage,” said Siva. “There’s also food, a DJ, dancing, face painting, raffles and a vendor bazaar.”

At the vendor bazaar are small businesses that sell products or services to support the charity as well.

The organization offers assistance for those in the metro Detroit community who are in need, with a special focus on recent immigrants and refugee families.

“This organization was started by a group of women who came together to help people who came to this country and help them assimilate,” said UCFS board member Renee Yaldo. “My mom was a volunteer. When I graduated and got older, I wanted a way to get involved and give back to the community. I started volunteering, and I noticed how much we do for the less fortunate and refugees. … It’s given me a place to give back, and now it is something I take part in with my daughters.”

This help comes in a variety of ways.

“We have wraparound services that support hundreds of families around metro Detroit,” explained UCFS case manager Maroa Semaan. “We offer refugee programs, a food pantry where low-income families can come for help, citizenship and job help.”

“The funds raised go to all of our programs. Our food pantry is probably the biggest program right now, since we’re having more than 600 families per month coming through looking for food,” added Siva. “This is up more than 40% from last year.”

Yaldo said that the UCFS team will use the funds raised at the event to make lives better for those who need a hand up.

“We help in so many aspects, and we have so many programs,” she said. “We have a huge warehouse — that we call our ‘Sharehouse’ — with new and gently used items. We never put anything in the Sharehouse that we wouldn’t take. We have a food pantry, so they can get food and bedding. We have tutoring programs, senior programs, programs for autistic and special needs children. If anyone wants to help contribute to any of those groups or if they want help themselves, our doors are always open.”

She added that their goal is to aid anyone, especially those adjusting to life in the United States.

“We just want to help people who are new to this country, whether they are Chaldean, Ukrainian, Afghanis; they are all part of our community, and we help them,” said Yaldo. “That’s what this is all about.”