– It’s the middle of winter. The temperature outside hovers in the 20s as the sun hides behind a canvass of pale gray clouds. It wouldn’t take long before these conditions were bone-chillingly unbearable to many of us.
Now picture the same scene, and imagine that you see a little girl on a bicycle. She doesn’t have a winter coat. No warm mittens or hat. And she's hungry. The only thing shielding her from the chilled air is a tattered pair of pants and a long-sleeve flannel shirt. She pedals up to a Salvation Army Bed and Bread truck parked on a desolate street corner in the city.
She lowers the bike to the ground where it rests on the snow-covered curb. She walks up to the truck and asks for a hot meal for herself and two more for her parents, who are waiting at home for her return.
Think this can’t happen to you?
Recently published reports suggest that nearly half of Detroit’s eligible workers maybe jobless and in-need of some sort of assistance from agencies like the Salvation Army, which provides 5,000 meals a day to children, adults and senior citizens.
Michelle St. Pierre, public relations director for the Salvation Army said that “desolate street corner” can just as easily be in any neighborhood in southeastern Michigan.
“Times are really tough and we’re seeing people that used to donate to the Salvation Army that are now in line, coming to get some food,” St. Pierre said. “We’re seeing welders, we’re seeing people that are teachers that were laid-off, and they’re coming up with their children. Many people are coming up and saying, ‘I haven’t worked in a year; I just need a meal.’ ”
Still think it can’t happen to you?
“It really breaks your heart the most when you see the children in line,” St. Pierre said, “because they’re coming up and getting a hot meal and taking something back for their mom or for their dad. It’s really been a tough year.”
The Red Wings have always been big supporters of the Bed and Bread program with Kirk Maltby, coach Mike Babcock and general manager Ken Holland being the most notable repeat volunteers, who have handed out meals in the community.
On Wednesday, Maltby and Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard volunteered on a truck on the city’s west side, passing out hot meals and drinks. They also distributed new hats, gloves and socks to those who needed them.
“It feels nice to go out into the community and help people,” Maltby said. “Any little bit that you can help with – it’s not gratifying – but you kind of feel like as a person that it’s your duty to help people out. … It makes you appreciate what you have and it makes you realize what needs to be done. That’s why I’m so happy and glad to help out each year.”
The Wings have also contributed to the 23rd annual Dick Purtan Radiothon, which benefits the Bed and Bread program. The radiothon will be held on Friday, Feb. 26 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Oakland Mall in Madison Heights, Mich.
“To have Kirk Maltby work on the Bed and Bread truck over the last few years, he realizes that the best way to give tribute to Dick is to encourage people to act, to actually give a gift to the Bed and Bread Club,” St. Pierre said. “No gift, no card is going to help more than that. To have the Red Wings participating in such a big way … we’re just so grateful.”
While the poor economy has affected many, it has really devastated service agencies like the Salvation Army that has seen a 60 percent increase in those asking for assistance. Every dollar donated helps – a donation of just $10 can feed a single person for a year – which is why Dick Purtan’s Radiothon is so important.
“When you do give, you’re not just helping someone on the street, you maybe helping your neighbor,” St. Pierre said. “We’re seeing a lot of people that we wouldn’t normally see from the suburbs that are out of work and never thought that they would be in this position. They just need a step-up, not just a hand-out, a step-up with maybe some guidance and some help. And we’re here to do that.”
Donations are being accepted online right now!
Donations can also be made by phone: 248-307-1043
Or donate by mail : Check / Money order
The Salvation Army
16130 Northland Drive
Southfield, Michigan 48075