More than 300 families in Oakland County, Mich., received clothing, household appliances, furniture and a pre-packed meal during the fifth annual neighbor-to-neighbor giveaway on April 27-28 hosted by the Clarkston Ward, Grand Blanc Michigan Stake.
The early spring event targeted families in need who participate in programs at one of the area's key community organizations, Lighthouse of Oakland County. Nicole Ward from Pontiac, Mich., said, "Your giveaway was really needed by our family. I was able to get summer clothes for my son, and even some dress clothes for church. I went with three other women from Lighthouse, and we came back with all the things our families and homes needed. This event really helped a lot of people. We had so much fun."
Items of every kind were received during the extensive donation drive. A detailed sorting process separated the items into appropriate categories that filled the gymnasium, every classroom and hallway in the Church.
“We at Lighthouse are thankful to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Charlotte Jones, community relations and outreach officer for the organization. "We are grateful for your support in helping us move our families from crises to self-sufficiency. Our families were thrilled to be helped with so many items and food," she said.
The giveaway began in 2008 when the Michigan economy went into a tailspin. At that time, members of the ward looked for something they could do to help ease the financial burden of the area's families in need. Even though many members of the congregation were struggling financially, they wanted to help the community. Rather than hosting a garage sale to raise funds for Lighthouse, members decided to fill the Church with donations and invite families that use Lighthouse services to select what they need, free of charge.
“Over the past five years, Church volunteers have helped hundreds of individuals in Clarkston and surrounding areas receive items they simply cannot afford,” said Clarkston Ward Bishop Matthew Laker. “Our hearts reach out to those who truly need help in these challenging economic times. We want them to feel welcome in our Church and supported by our congregation."
Each year the neighbor-to-neighbor giveaway event gets bigger and bigger. The Clarkston Ward plans to continue the tradition in future years. Elsworth White from Pontiac Mich., said, "I went to the Church with my sister who had just moved. She got so many things she needed, even a refrigerator. The people were so nice they even delivered it to her personally. Everybody was helpful at the Church. Thank you so much."