Neighborhood House offers support to families in need during the holidays

Nonprofit seeks donations for holiday gift giving program

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 20, 2020

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The community can help spread holiday cheer by assisting local families in financial need this holiday season.

Barb Cenko, the president of the Rochester Area Neighborhood House board and the nonprofit’s holiday gift program manager, said COVID-19 has added to the economic struggles of many families.

Since March, the Neighborhood House has seen a steady increase in new families — an average of over 20 new families per month — and serves between 200-260 households each month. 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.

Neighborhood House recently kicked off its holiday Giving Tree program, which includes many new options for donors to give during the COVID-19 pandemic, safely, from the comfort of their own homes.

“Due to the pandemic, we realize that many people are uncomfortable shopping or going to one of our community Giving Trees, so we are encouraging people to purchase items online and have them delivered to the (Neighborhood House) office,” Neighborhood House Director Kathy Losinski said in a statement.

To protect donors, volunteers and neighbors, the nonprofit is relying more upon electronic shopping to provide food, clothing and gifts for those in need this holiday season.

An electronic “Giving Tree” will allow donors to safely shop for hoodies, pajamas, gloves, mittens, scarfs, toys and gift cards for struggling families 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

“We need clothing, hoodies and pajamas for kids, as well as games, books and toys,” Cenko said.

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; and the Neighborhood House, 1720 S. Livernois, through Dec. 7.

Last year, 212 families with 498 children received clothing and gifts as part of the holiday gift program, and this year, organizers hope to serve many more.

When families are facing the challenge of food insecurity, Cenko said there is no money for extras.

“Our community has been very generous to us, and our food pantry has stayed full, so we’re hoping that this holiday season will be bright for a lot of families,” Cenko said.

The Neighborhood House is also working with local churches to facilitate the distribution of holiday food baskets for individuals and families in need.

Losinski said 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.

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