The holiday season is a time of joy, and — if one's lucky — of plenty.
Sadly, hunger continues to be a problem, with one in four Michigan children living in poverty and nearly half qualifying for free or low-cost school lunches.
In Rochester Community Schools, 1,986 students qualify for free or reduced breakfast or lunch; that's about 13 percent of the district's total enrollment.
Last year, the Rochester Area Neighborhood House served 2,500 families in Rochester, Rochester Hills and the surrounding areas; those services included 1,433 food pantry orders serving 3,233 individuals.
And from January through August this year, God's Helping Hands of Rochester Hills has assisted 2,473 families by providing more than 100,000 pounds of food.
But amid those statistics, there are glimmers of hope — and countless ways to help.
Just last week, students from all three Rochester high schools contributed to the biggest food drive the Neighborhood House Food Pantry has ever seen: in all, 24,000 cans of food were collected, and volunteers are still sorting through the bounty.
And on Saturday, the town's high school hockey players will play for hunger in a cross-town rivalry game at the Onyx. With two cans of food, you can watch the Rochester United vs. Stoney Creek varsity hockey game for free at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
These are just a few examples of creative ways the Rochester community has found to help.
As the season of thanks and giving is upon us, Rochester Patch is bringing you a list of ideas for helping the hungry and less fortunate in our community. Do you have something to add to this list? Tell our readers about it in the comments below.
How to help
Gleaners Community Food Bank. The southeast Michigan agency provides 45 million pounds of food every year to Michigan's hungry through schools, soup kitchens, shelters and nonprofit agencies. To find out about local food drives, visit www.gcfb.org. Or, contribute online: Patch communities have partnered with Gleaners for an online food pantry. Shop Gleaners' virtual grocery shelves: Click to get started.
Rochester Area Neighborhood House. The local organization provides clothing and food for those in need. For a list of current needs or to help organize an event, visit the organization's website. The Neighborhood House's popular Giving Tree program collects new, unwrapped gifts for kids at various locations around town.
God's Helping Hands. The Rochester Hills community outreach group helps by feeding and clothing the needy in the area. Visit the website for a creative list of ideas for how to help.
Blessings in a Backpack. The organization provides elementary school children in need with a backpack of food to take home on weekends during the school year. Blessings in a Backpack helps about 250 school children in Rochester.
Rochester Community Kitchen. With the help of local churches and nonprofits, the Rochester Community House hosts a Sunday dinner on the third Sunday of the month for low-income families and seniors. Dinner is served buffet style complete with linen tablecloths. Call the Community House at 248.651.0622 for more information on how to help.