West Bloomfield police, Kroger team up to fight hunger

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 11, 2019

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — The police departments of West Bloomfield and Orchard Lake are teaming up with Kroger for a food drive benefiting a half-dozen charities.

The goal is to fill up police vehicles with nonperishable food items, which will help feed those in need this summer. This is especially important for children from struggling families, who may not have consistent access to meal programs now that school is out.

The drive will take place 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, in the parking lot of the Kroger store located at 4395 Orchard Lake Road. Residents will be able to bring their food items and load up the vehicles parked on-site.

The goods will then be taken to Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, Forgotten Harvest, the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Food Gatherers.

Kroger initiated the event — which is part of its Zero Hunger initiative — in cooperation with the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.

Curt Lawson, the deputy chief of the West Bloomfield Police Department, said that board members of the West Bloomfield Police Foundation — many of whom are police personnel themselves — work with various groups in the community, including West Bloomfield Youth Assistance, the West Bloomfield Optimist Club, the Greater West Bloomfield Coalition and the Rotary Club.

Helping children is a common theme running through their work, whether it’s fundraising for Blessings in a Backpack, gathering gifts for kids during the holidays or providing them with winter clothing.

“The need is real, and we will do our part to help,” Lawson said. “The Police Department and its members routinely volunteer and participate in nonprofit group events. We do this because we are convinced they have a positive impact on kids throughout our community.”

The Blessings in a Backpack program feeds school children who are at risk of going hungry on the weekends. The initiative benefited 230 children in the West Bloomfield School District in 2018.

West Bloomfield police also worked with the West Bloomfield Rotary Club to deliver turkey dinners, complete with all of the trimmings, to families in the community for Thanksgiving last year. That particular project also involved the Rotary Clubs of Troy, Birmingham and Sterling Heights, and was also part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger initiative, reaching 250 Michigan families.

Gerald Hill, the superintendent of the West Bloomfield School District and the current president of the West Bloomfield Rotary Club, said the police have been valuable allies.

“I find the West Bloomfield Police Department — from Chief Mike Patton and Deputy Chief Curt Lawson on down — a pleasure to partner with,” Hill said. “They are very visible in the schools and community. They are supportive of community service organizations. They possess a high degree of expertise and provide helpful advice on matters of public safety and security.”     

Orchard Lake Police Chief Joe George said his team is excited to help out.

“We have also been involved with (Shop with a Cop) with the Fraternal Order of Police and assisting the Optimist Club with their Christmas party for kids … (as well as with) Wigs for Kids the past couple of years,” George said. “Orchard Lake police jumped at the chance of being involved with the Kroger initiative. Anytime we can assist with helping someone in need, we are happy to do so.”