Courtesy of Allison Parr

Thanks to a GoFundMe campaign and nonprofit partnerships, local families in need will find relief during the crisis.

During this time of social distancing and with so many common household items suddenly in scarce supply, Temple Shir Shalom has spearheaded a GoFundMe campaign to deliver food and pre-packaged bags to those in need.

To do this, the temple is partnering with the volunteer-run Oakland County Poverty and Homelessness Task Force and other nonprofit organizations. After only three days, the campaign had raised more than $4,000, enough to surpass its original goal of 80 grocery baskets.

Naomi Parr, a sophomore at Bloomfield Hills High School and member of Temple Shir Shalom, recognized that many of her classmates rely on the school to provide them meals throughout the day and with schools closing due to the coronavirus, students might not have enough food to eat.

So, Naomi and her mother, Allison, reached out to their Rabbi, Daniel Schwartz, about ways they could help those in need. Schwartz was able to get them in touch with Kimber Bishop-Yanke, chair of the task force.

“After getting in touch with Kimber, we knew that we could provide our help,” Allison Parr said.

“The main issue we were facing was that no one would sell goods to us because of the madness going on right now. However, Rabbi Schwartz had a connection at Joe Randazzo’s [market], and we were able to buy 120 dozen eggs, 160 pounds of pasta and 90 gallons of milk. Rabbi Schwartz even went to restaurants and was able to get their half-gallons of milk that were going to go bad if not used soon.”

The Parr’s carts in Walmart filled with all the goods they are buying for those in need. Courtesy of Allison Parr

The Parrs continued their shopping at the Walmart in Troy and were able to fill five giant carts with perishable items and plenty of boxed and canned goods that will help feed more than 100 families.

In addition to the food the Parrs bought, Micah 6 will be providing fruits and vegetables to go into the prepackaged bags. Micah 6 is an organization located in Pontiac that provides the community with pop-up produce markets, a community garden, job opportunities and nutrition education.

Today, the Parr’s goal is to sort all the food so they can take it to State Rep. Brenda Carter’s office March 21, where volunteers will drive it around to families and drop it off on porches. According to Bishop-Yanke, Carter has been meeting with her since last April to identify barriers, provide education and mobilize the Pontiac community to help resolve the homelessness issue.

“This drop-off provides families who might struggle with transportation the opportunity to get the goods they need,” Bishop-Yanke said.

Volunteers will come in small groups to Carter’s office in Pontiac to pick up baskets and drop them off on people’s porches, knock on the door and then wave to the people from their cars.

The names of families and individuals who will receive these packages were provided to Bishop-Yanke through organizations including Lighthouse, Micah 6 and others. The baskets will be dropped off to approximately 180 people.

Temple Shir Shalom will continue to monitor its GoFundMe campaign and channel the proceeds into additional grocery bags, according to Allison Parr.

“We are planning on two more packings, and depending on what happens with the coronavirus situation, there could be more,” Bishop-Yanke said. “People want to help, and I think it is important to give people ways to help but also in a way that follows social distancing practices.”

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