Volunteers kick off the season of giving by assembling Thanksgiving baskets for families

When 9-year-old Lauren Navock arrived at Oakland Family Services Tuesday, she went right to work unloading boxes of Stove Top stuffing and placing them on tables for volunteers to pack inside Thanksgiving baskets for clients and their families.

Lauren didn’t just help fill the baskets. She also collected 85 boxes of stuffing, 40 boxes of mashed potatoes and 10 packages of rolls through Flagstar Bank, where her mother, Ashley, works.

“I think it’s important people get to enjoy the holiday like we do,” said Lauren, a 4th grader from Springfield Plains Elementary School in Clarkston. “Not everyone can do that. I thought it would be nice to do this for people who wouldn’t have a meal on Thanksgiving.”

A group of volunteers from General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights and other individuals gathered at Oakland Family Services Nov. 20 to assemble Thanksgiving baskets for 100 clients who otherwise would not have a meal to share with their families.

Employees from General Dynamics Land Systems’ legal and contracts teams donated food items and cash to purchase much of the food. Many also donated to Oakland Family Services a $25 check they received as a personal gift from the company intended for the purchase of a turkey.

Jason Monahan, vice president and general counsel at General Dynamics Land Systems, said he is interested in the mission of Oakland Family Services and wanted to get an up-close look at the work the agency does. He also wanted to find a way for his two daughters, Sofia, 9, and Julia, 7, to give back to the community. Jason already volunteers at Oakland Family Services’ Children’s Learning Center in Pontiac and is helping a family for the holidays through the agency’s Adopt A Family program.

“I really like the enthusiasm of the staff and that Oakland Family Services runs the agency like a business,” he said. “They are fiscally responsible about their obligation to the community and to those who donate their money and time to the organization. I feel my time is going for a good cause.”

For the second year in a row, 9-year-old Jamison Aratari donated turkeys for the Thanksgiving baskets. Lear Corporation, where Jamison’s mother, Erica, works gave $900 toward purchasing the turkeys from Tenuta’s Food Lane in Waterford. The West Bloomfield Fire Department and Premier Factory Safety in Shelby Township also donated money to purchase turkeys while LaFontaine loaned a pickup truck to transport the turkeys to the agency.

Also hosting food drives were Rheinmetall Group in Auburn Hills and CorsoCare in Milford.

Kristin Benton, director of development at Oakland Family Services, said Oakland Family Services appreciates all of the support from the businesses and individuals in the community.

“Our volunteers really rallied around our clients, and we are grateful for their support in terms of donations for the baskets and their time and effort in putting everything together,” she said. “This is going to relieve the burden of providing a meal on Thanksgiving for the families we serve.”