Monday, December 7, 2015

Rochester church donates 2,500 gifts to those with disabilities

By Jerry Wolffe,                                      
Posted: |                                        
Members of St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church in Rochester again this year have donated some 2,500 gifts for people with disabilities that the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center serves in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

“It’s going on 30 years,” said support coordinator Donna Arsenault as some 40 of her colleagues picked up 1,250 gifts organized on a gym floor at MORC’s Clinton Township office to deliver before Christmas. Another 1,200 or so gifts also were at MORC’s Auburn Hills office to be distributed in time for the holidays.

“I think this is a perfect example of the true spirit of Christmas,” said Arsenault, referring to the generosity of the members of St. Andrew’s. Parishioner Diane Lucey of the church which serves the spiritual needs of 4,700 households helped coordinate the donations.

“The generosity of this church reminds us of the good in society,” said Support Coordinator Supervisor Barry Jenneman. “I look forward to this day each year. The kindness and caring that the St. Andrews congregation displays never ceases to amaze me.”

The church had several giving trees and parishioners picked out cards to fulfill the requests of those with disabilities that MORC helps live in the community with the type of supports needed.

One package among the hundreds on the gym floor contained boxer briefs, slippers size 8-1/2, khaki pants, coloring books, and “an assortment of coffee.”

“For some these gifts are the only thing they will get for Christmas,” Arsenault said. “It just shows kindness, generosity, giving and unconditional love for people” by the parishioners at the church.

The parishioners do all the shopping. The gifts are then brought to MORC’s two offices in Macomb and Oakland counties. On Friday, it was the day that support coordinators at the Clinton Township office went up and down rows looking for gifts for those who are part of their caseload.

The gifts are to be no more than $20 but in some cases, they exceed the limit.

“I think it’s a blessing to be part of such generosity,” said Support Coordinator Supervisor Helen Hoberg. “It’s the highlight of our jobs.”

Dawn Smith who works with support coordinator Kari Arms had picked up five gifts and was looking for more. “I expect to find 34 gifts,” she said. “We plan to pass them out before Christmas. It’s really cool. It’s awesome.”

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950