UAW-Ford Makes Holidays Brighter for Thousands of Families

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The holidays can be a time of joy for many, but this time of year puts additional stress on low-income families who not only have to worry about gift giving, but also how to provide food for their children during this time.
According to the latest statistics released by the USDA, there are 3.9 million households in America in which both adults and children have limited or inconsistent access to food. Hunger during the holidays is a real issue and there are many organizations that believe that every family, no matter the income level, should be able to gather together for a nice holiday meal.
That is why UAW-Ford has donated more than $750,000 in food for its second annual Holiday Box of Love Food Giveaway.
“There is a social obligation and drastic need for giving, especially this time of the year,” said UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles. “Particularly for the holidays, we want to make sure that people are afforded a chance to eat with pride and dignity.”
During the period of Dec. 13-20, more than 200 volunteers, including UAW-Ford staff and their families, community leaders, students from the Detroit and Highland Park school systems, Woodbridge Community Center and Eagle Sports Teams, assembled and distributed nearly 25,000 food baskets for families needing assistance during the holiday season.
“Planning a widespread giving efforts like this takes a lot of organizing, planning and people to dedicate their time to seeing it through, but the results are always rewarding,” Ford Motor Company Vice President of Labor Affairs Bill Dirksen said. “Last year, we heard several stories that confirmed we were doing the right thing. So this year we (helped) thousands more.”
In 2013, the organization gave away nearly 20,000 food baskets in the community and this year due to the demand, the gift has grown. To reach out to even more families, UAW-Ford decided to increase that number by 5,000 to 25,000 this year.
“I am very grateful for UAW-Ford. Last year I was unemployed and my family was one of the families who received a Box of Love. This year I have been blessed with a job and I wanted to give back as a volunteer,” said Detroit resident Arlethia Kennedy. “It was very important for me to be able to have Christmas dinner for my girls and I appreciate the Holiday Box of Love for helping to make that possible.”
UAW-Ford has a long history of giving back to the communities in which it works. In October, it conducted a month-long breast cancer awareness campaign that included free mammogram screenings. UAW-Ford also recently acknowledged 56 of its members nationwide who embody the organization’s commitment to giving and community service.
UAW-Ford VP Jimmy Settles (right) helps unload holiday boxes for distribution.
Detroit Area Agency on Aging makes Christmas
Day hearty and warm for 6,000 seniors
Have you ever wondered how Santa gets all those presents to everyone by Christmas? He must have a system and his system probably involves resourceful volunteers like those of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging Holiday Meals on Wheels program.
This Christmas, more than 6,000 homebound seniors in Wayne County will receive a hot fresh dinner through the work of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) and the DTE Energy Foundation, which is donating $30,000. Additionally, through the support of DTE Energy and its 700 volunteers, each senior will also receive a cozy, warm, red fleece blanket.
DAAA’s Holiday Meals on Wheels program themed this year “A Priceless Gift that Warms Hearts,” provides a holiday meal to homebound seniors in Detroit, the Grosse Pointes, Harper Woods, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
“We love helping to make Christmas for our seniors with our Holiday Meals on Wheels program. It’s heartwarming to continue to serve this most important population,” said Paul Bridgewater, DAAA President and CEO. “The DTE Energy Foundation has partnered with us over the last five years on this program and we couldn’t do it without them and their dedicated employees.”
See DAAA Page B-2
The DTE Energy Care Corps volunteers join hundreds other volunteers from corporations, businesses, churches, sororities, fraternities and various organizations who will pack, distribute and individually deliver fresh-cooked, hot nutritious meals to metro Detroit homebound seniors on Christmas Day starting at 6 a.m.
The packing of 6,000 meals will occur at Valley Services, 1980 Bagley in Detroit, at the corner of Rosa Parks Blvd. (old 12th Street) south of Michigan Avenue, near old Corktown.
“Watching the teams of volunteers work to help others really reminds you that Detroit is very generous and cares about our seniors. This is what Christmas is about, helping others because hunger takes no holiday. Everyone makes a sacrifice to get up early on Christmas morning to make sure the seniors are served their hot meals and given their warm blankets from DTE by noon,” said Bridgewater.
DAAA and its team of 1,200 volunteers will prepare the 6,000 Christmas holiday meals in two days. On Tuesday, Dec. 23, from 8 to noon, the volunteers will package the non-perishable items, which include beverages, utensils and a holiday card.
On Thursday, Dec. 25, beginning at 6 a.m., the volunteers will package the seniors’ meals that were made fresh that morning. This year’s Christmas meal includes chicken with apple glaze, whole sweet potatoes, green beans with red peppers, a dinner roll, fruit pie, and milk and juice.
The meals are lovingly prepared by Valley Services, a national food services company, in their USDA-certified kitchen at 1980 Bagley Street in Detroit and are distributed to ten community sites plus two Detroit DTE Service Centers: Warren Service Center, 7940 Livernois; and Caniff Service Center, 1201 Caniff.
“It really is an amazing system to watch and see how fast the food gets out to our seniors, and it is all volunteer-driven. The sites are where the volunteers go to pack their cars, get their instructions so they can deliver the meals the seniors. This year DTE has offered two of their own service centers so their employees and their families can pick up from an east side and west side location and meet up with Faye Alexander Nelson, president of the DTE Energy Foundation and vice president of public affairs. We’re all like Santa’s helpers. It’ll be a rewarding experience for all.”
The federally-funded Meals on Wheels program provides meals to homebound seniors in Detroit, but meals are not provided on holidays and weekends.
“We know that hunger takes no holiday, that’s why the Detroit Area Agency on Aging sells holiday cards for $5 each to deliver a complete freshly-prepared hot nutritious meal to seniors on holidays,” said Bridgewater.
“With the help of corporate sponsors – like DTE Energy and Ford Motor Company Fund, the community and DAAA employees – thousands of dollars are raised to purchase the meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Labor Day each year.”
To make a donation to the Holiday Meals on Wheels Card campaign to help seniors, make checks payable to: Detroit Meals On Wheels, 1333 Brewery Park Blvd., Detroit, MI 48207. You can also call (313) 446-4444 or make a donation via PayPal online via http://www.daaa1a.org/DAAA/donations.

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