Hazel Park gears up for Holiday Baskets

Applications, donations still being accepted

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 28, 2012

HAZEL PARK — There’s still time for families to sign up for the Hazel Park Holiday Basket program — and to give to the cause.  

Applications for the food baskets will continue to be accepted through Friday, Nov. 30, at all public schools and the administration building in the Hazel Park district, as well as the Hazel Park library, Fire Department and City Hall, and Fairy Tale Flowers.

Those who live in the district are eligible, as are residents of Hazel Park and parts of Ferndale. Applicants must feel they are in need and will be asked about their income. 

Donations of money, nonperishable food and household items will continue to be collected at the same sites for a week longer, up through Friday, Dec. 7.

The top collection site wins bragging rights and a prize. Last year, 17,800 items were donated: everything from canned goods, cereal, rice, soup, and macaroni and cheese, to baby diapers.

Each year, the program plans for 400 families, but demand never exceeds that number. Last year, they helped 363 families. The school district has held the program for more than 30 years straight.  

“We’ve always gone under that number (400 families), but we haven’t turned anyone away,” said Laura LaForme, vice-president of the HPPS Board of Education. She added that, if more than 400 families apply, they would find a way to accommodate them.

Each “basket” is a 16-inch-by-20-inch box donated by Monroe PMP in Auburn Hills, stuffed with canned goods, cereals like Captain Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios, and a $10 shopping card to Kroger. Each school-age child on the application receives a brand new board game, a book, a hat and mittens. Rounding out the package is a Dearborn holiday ham, bagged separately.

Once all the goods are accounted for, SERVPRO of Hazel Park, 1651 E. Nine Mile, sends a trailer to round them up. Hundreds of volunteers will meet at Webb Elementary, 2100 Woodward Heights, to sort and pack the items Friday, Dec. 14. Kasandra Brown, a teacher at Hazel Park Junior High, will bring a busload of 25-30 students to help.

“It’s really a neat process, to see everyone together in the room, having fun sorting and putting together boxes,” said Sherrie Polowski, HPPS Board of Education trustee. “There are so many volunteers. We have parents, we have community members, we have city employees, and we have kids. And then they get their friends and ask if they can bring family members to help, making it a holiday tradition.”

The distribution date is the next day, Dec. 15. Families visit the school for pickup in the morning. The process is completely anonymous, with only adult volunteers involved. Those who are homebound will have their baskets delivered.

“We’re told that we help ease the stress during the holidays, and that we’re able to provide a great holiday meal for families that might otherwise not be able to,” LaForme said. “I’m a lifelong resident of Hazel Park — so is my husband — and the reason we stay is because of these kinds of activities where our community comes together. Hazel Park is a very small town, but we always pull together to help one another, and this is just another demonstration of that.”

Applications for food baskets will be accepted at all Hazel Park schools and the administration building up through Nov. 30, as well as the Hazel Park library, fire department, city hall and Fairy Tale Flowers. Donations will be accepted at the same sites up through Dec. 7. For more information, call (248) 542-9381.