By Vickie Thomas

Hats off to Forgotten Harvest and the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center.  The two teamed up to serve a holiday dinner to over a thousand homeless people this week.

I joined with former University of Michigan “Fab Five” and NBA player Jalen Rose, former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Tarik Daoud of Long Family Auto Center and Vivian Pickard, head of the General Motors Foundation to act as celebrity servers.

A festive Renaissance Ballroom at the Marriott filled up with smiling faces as we served Ham, turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, chicken fingers, pasta salad and various desserts.

The crowd included about 700 homeless children.  They were guided through the buffet line by a parent or one of the many volunteers.  In looking in their eyes, I knew this was not the type of treatment they were accustomed to getting.

It made me and many other volunteers count our blessings.   Former Mayor Archer said, “You take a look at this ballroom being entirely filled with wonderful people, who but for the grace of God could be any one of us.  And thus, I think it is a season in which we should be thankful for that which we have and to whom much is given, much is expected – so each of us in our own way, can make a big difference.”

Lisa Sullivan, Senior Coordinator for the GM Foundation, said it was very rewarding and eye opening too.  “It’s embarrassing how much I have and fellow colleagues have compared to the recipients of this dinner and it’s very humbling – it just makes you want to do more and more.   I agree!

Forgotten Harvest is always looking for volunteers.  Spokesman John Owens said, “We need volunteers every single day of the year – literally.  We were open six days a week for volunteers and we are probably going to start opening up on Sunday.”  I took a tour of the operation on Greenfield Road and watched volunteers sort and re-package large food donations.  “We need approximately 60 to 80 volunteers every single day, six days a week,” Owens added.

Monetary donations are needed as well.  Owens said, “If we don’t get the donations, our trucks aren’t going to roll.  We have 31 trucks.  We are America’s most efficient food rescue operation.”

According to Forgotten Harvest, 800-thousand people in Southeast Michigan faced hunger in their homes, including one in four children in the region and almost half of the children in Detroit.

For more information, call (888) 332-7140 or donate online at

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