By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – Local law enforcement, Kroger and Entercom Communications teamed up across southeast Michigan July 27 and Aug. 3 to help replenish local food banks through the Zero Hunger Emergency Food Drive.
The non-perishable food collections, held at Kroger locations, will help stock the shelves at Gleaners, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Forgotten Harvest, the Food Bank of South-Central Michigan, the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Food Gatherers.
Southgate Reserve Police Officer Lt. Erik Balogh said the food drive is motivated by a desire to help feed children who normally receive breakfast and lunch at their school during summer vacation time.
“People have been great,” Balogh said, pointing to the bags of non-perishable food donations. “We are filling up carts, filling up the trunks of our cars and everything.”
Southgate Reserve Police Officer Lt. Leo Luce said families have come with their children to make food donations.
“We have been getting monetary donations as well,” Luce said. “so at the end of the shift, when we are done, we will go in and do some shopping, and donate some more food from the funds that we receive from people. There are families in the Downriver community that need the help as well, too.”
Luce said as a reserve officer, he has a regular 9-to-5 job during the week, and he volunteers to help with special events like this on his own time.
Forgotten Harvest volunteer Shonita Colbert of Farmington Hills said the summer food drive is needed because many underprivileged children get their meals primarily from school programs during the academic year.
“Monday through Friday, they will have breakfast programs, lunch programs and even after-school programs,” Colbert said. “When they are out of school and don’t go to summer school, there is a need. Some of them can’t make it to the food pantry, and some of them don’t even have access to the available organizations.”
She said as a volunteer with Forgotten Harvest, she is pleased that the organization actually brings food directly to people in need.
“It is just great to be a part of that,” Colbert said. “I want to help in any way I can.”
She said the generosity of people shopping at the Southgate Kroger that day was heartwarming.
“It is amazing to me, in the climate we live in today, to see that people really do care,” Colbert said. “When you look at social media, and you look at the news, and you see what’s happening, you tend to think that society doesn’t care about its people, but what’s happening today, I think counters that.
“Our boxes are filling up. If it’s not food, people are donating their money, and they are even telling us how appreciative they are that we are taking our time out of our day to just do this and make sure that no one is hungry.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])