Volunteers Jaylin Bennett, 20, of Canton, left, and Destiny Wade, 20, of Canton, right, help sort, count and bag donations at the Royal Oak Woman’s Club Jan. 18.

Volunteers Jaylin Bennett, 20, of Canton, left, and Destiny Wade, 20, of Canton, right, help sort, count and bag donations at the Royal Oak Woman’s Club Jan. 18.

Photo provided by Lisa Breuer


Royal Oak Woman’s Club hosts MLK Day donation drive

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 18, 2021

 Mary Mitchell, of Royal Oak, left, and Royal Oak Woman’s Club First Vice President Lisa Breuer, right, stand near donation bins at the clubhouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 18.

Mary Mitchell, of Royal Oak, left, and Royal Oak Woman’s Club First Vice President Lisa Breuer, right, stand near donation bins at the clubhouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 18.

Photo provided by Sylvia Sopata

 Royal Oak Woman’s Club President Sylvia Sopata stands near donation bins at the clubhouse on MLK Day Jan. 18.

Royal Oak Woman’s Club President Sylvia Sopata stands near donation bins at the clubhouse on MLK Day Jan. 18.

Photo provided by Sylvia Sopata

 The Royal Oak Woman’s Club’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day contactless donation drive includes a hand sanitizing station and labeled bins beneath a canopy Jan. 18.

The Royal Oak Woman’s Club’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day contactless donation drive includes a hand sanitizing station and labeled bins beneath a canopy Jan. 18.

Photo provided by Lisa Breuer

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ROYAL OAK — From noon to 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, the Royal Oak Woman’s Club facilitated its first of two donation drives to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

The second drive will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23.

While the Woman’s Club had participated in joint Martin Luther King Jr. Day service events hosted in recent years by the cities of Royal Oak and Berkley, this is the first independent event that the nonprofit organized for the federal holiday.

Via contactless drop off at the clubhouse on South Pleasant Street, the drive collected new or gently used shoes for Soles4Souls; new disposable self-activating hand warmers and athletic socks for the Welcome Inn Day Center; small coloring books, crayons, child-sized toothbrushes and toothpaste for Operation Smile; and new hairbrushes, travel-sized toiletries, fingernail and toenail clippers, and lip balm for the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center.

Nashville-based Soles4Souls collects shoes and redistributes them through direct donations to people in need and micro-enterprise partners around the world; the Welcome Inn is a daytime shelter for the homeless in Royal Oak; Operation Smile is a global nonprofit that provides surgeries for children with cleft lips and palates; and the VA Medical Center serves Detroit-area veterans.

Sylvia Sopata, president of the Woman’s Club, said the public came out in droves to drop off donations, as many of the usual in-person community service opportunities were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We set the bins up under the canopy, so it’s contactless, and we are overwhelmed with the response,” she said earlier in the day while the drive was still taking place. “We are just overwhelmed with the generosity of the Royal Oak area.”

She said most people heard about the event through a flyer circulated on Facebook, as well as through Royal Oak Schools PTAs, the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Oak Inter-Club Council, which includes the Lions and Rotary clubs.

“They were thrilled we were doing it. We got a lot of stuff — a lot of items donated — and it really helps that it’s right there at the clubhouse, so we can just move everything into the clubhouse and then start boxing things up and getting them to different charities,” Sopata said.

As of press time, Sopata said the first drive collected more than 350 pairs of shoes, 228 hand warmers, more than 200 boxes of crayons and at least 100 coloring books, among other requested items.

“These are all charities we have supported in the past. It was easy to make contact and ask what they really needed this year,” Sopata said. “Things like for the veterans we never probably would have thought of, like hairbrushes, ChapStick and toenail clippers.”

Micah Green, of Farmington Hills, and Nick Hampton, of Southfield, arrived during the tail end of the drive Jan. 18. Green said she searched online for MLK Day community service events, and the couple shopped for items for the Royal Oak Woman’s Club’s drive because it was nearby.

“We donated some stuff in each of the categories,” Green said. “Usually, there are other things in person that we do, but nothing was really open in person, so we were thankful for something to actually donate to.”

Hampton said they wanted to do something nice in honor of King and get out of the house.

“I think it’s great to have this opportunity to bring the community together to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all the things that he stood for,” Sopata said. “With the pandemic, there’s not a whole lot of things we can do, but we can certainly do this.”

Since 1902, the Royal Oak Woman’s Club has gathered for fellowship, fun and fundraising at various locations until it acquired its current clubhouse, which was built in 1839 and originally served as a Baptist church, in 1923.

The clubhouse is located at 404 S. Pleasant St.

For more information about the Royal Oak Woman’s Club, visit rowc.org, call (248) 246-3066 or email contactrowc@gmail.com.

 

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