Shelby Township giving tree to benefit Samaritan House

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 9, 2015

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — In the upstairs lobby of the Shelby Township municipal building, staff transformed this year’s Christmas tree into a giving tree.

Along with the usual festive ornaments, the tree is adorned with tags listing the needs of Samaritan House, an independent charity in Washington Township that has provided assistance to low-income residents in northern Macomb County for the last 20 years.

Shelby Township residents — when they visit the municipal building to pay their taxes, snap a passport photo or ask a question about development — can take a tag and fulfill the need.

Deputy Supervisor Brad Bates said the public is welcome to donate nonperishable food items and hygiene products in the drop box next to the tree.

“Folks don’t necessarily have to come in and take a tag off the tree. If they bring in donations, we’ll make sure they go to the right place,” he said. “We’re hoping to get a nice haul this year.”

Last year, Bates said, the township held a traditional canned food drive for Forgotten Harvest. This year, he said, a giving tree at his church inspired him to propose the interactive idea at work.

“We’re excited about it. It was a nice joint venture between the Supervisor’s Office and Human Resource Department,” Bates said. “We didn’t want to do anything too expensive, because a lot of folks’ budgets are tight.”

Part of the allure of partnering with Samaritan House, he said, is that all of the donations directly benefit local families.

Samaritan House covers 23 Mile Road north to 38 Mile Road, and from Dequindre Road to Fairchild Road.

“As we get to winter, folks need a little more help now than any other time,” Bates said.

Pamela Zendt, executive director of the Samaritan House, said she was delighted that Shelby Township was able to support the pantry and raise awareness for potential donors and those in need. Many people, she said, are not aware of the need in the area.

The donations will be used to supplement the pantry’s stocks after Christmas.

“During this time of year, we are so blessed to have so many awesome donors who go out and buy things for us,” Zendt said. “However, come January, February and March, we don’t have those donations but still have the people that need it, because we are a year-round food pantry.”

She said Samaritan House has 500 active households, but they don’t all request food orders every month.

She estimated that the food pantry distributes monthly approximately 215 food orders, which provide all family members three meals a day for 10-14 days, for a total of approximately 300-400 people.

Since bridge cards generally do not cover inedible products, she said, Samaritan House always is in need of items such as laundry soap, dish soap, deodorant, feminine products, toilet paper, bar soap, toothbrushes and diapers in sizes 3-6.

Needed food items at the Samaritan House include cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix, dry milk, coffee, tea, juice, fruit, stew, chili, soup, pasta sauce and stage 2 baby food.

“It takes 70-85 volunteers every month to keep us open three days a week,” Zendt said. “We’re busy, but it’s good. We’re blessed, and we’re always looking for people to train to come in and work a shift.”

For a full list of items needed at Samaritan House, visit www.samaritanhousemichigan.org. For more information about the charity’s services or to volunteer, call Samaritan House at (586) 339-9956.

The Shelby Township municipal building is located at 52700 Van Dyke Ave., south of 24 Mile Road. For more information, call the Supervisor’s Office at (586) 731-5154.

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