Oakland University students, staff and alumni not only supported the Santa Parade in downtown Mount Clemens with more than 275 walking grizzlies but used the event to kick off their annual food drive for the Macomb Food Program.
By the time Santa Claus waved good-bye, they had 800 of the 1,000 pounds they collected.
OU and the students volunteer for so many things and for them to participate in the parade and collect all of this food for the community is just fantastic, said Mound Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey, watching the students carry in their load of boxes and bags filled to the rim with rice and beans, canned fruit, vegetables and other nonperishable items which they presented to the Macomb Food Program on Wednesday.
This years drive went so well that next year Dempsey is going to ask parade participants who pay no entry fee to donate one perishable food item.
If everyone brings in one can imagine what we can collect, she said.
Among the young people who volunteered to donate items for the drive was Umama Chowdhury of Shelby Township and OU marketing student. It was great being able to help especially at this time of year, said Chowdhury. It is hard to imagine any family not having the stuff they need during the holidays. Ive been privileged to have enough food, so it was great to be able to help those who dont.
The food drive for the Macomb Food Program which distributes food twice a month to more than 50 network pantries throughout the county is just one of the many community programs supported by OU.
About one-third of OU students come from Macomb County, so events like this help students to engage in their community and invest in where they live, said Julie Dichtel, executive director of Macomb County Outreach at OU.
The group has also helped with Mount Clemens fireworks and McLaren Lets Move Festival of Races as participants and event volunteers.
They are wonderful community partners, Dempsey said.
Smiling not only at the students enthusiasm but at all of the food stacked up and ready to go was Shannon Mallory of Chesterfield Township and program manager for the Macomb Food Program.
Its amazing, Mallory said. One thousand pounds of food is really going to affect our community.
Rebecca Robbins, a junior at OU who was walked in the parade and helped with the collection afterwards said peoples generosity was overwhelming. I knew had a lot but it wasnt until we started weighing it that I realized how much. Thats when it really hit me. This is a lot of food. This is going to be really good for a lot of families.
For more information on how to help Macomb Food Program visit facebook.com/MacombFoodProgram/