More than 400 volunteers turned out Sunday for the third annual A-OK Service Day at University of Michigan-Dearborn and other sites around metro Detroit. ACCESS, City Year, Focus: HOPE and J-Serve were among the groups that joined together to combat hunger – the theme of this year’s event.
The day began around noon in the UM Dearborn’s University’s Center where City Year volunteers performed an exciting step show to get the crowd fired up for the work ahead. Volunteers then split into color-coded groups to harvest produce, package dried foods, create colorful lunch bags, work in a community garden and assemble boxes of food.
“We’re all coming out here to do something for a great cause and going to change the world in some way,” said volunteer Kya Warnsley.
The service day was held in remembrance of the September 11 tragedy. Community leaders talked to the volunteers about the importance of giving back to those in need. ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber said that it was important to honor the victims who suffered in 9/11 by coming together as a community to “make our voices heard against violence, intolerance and anyone who wants to interrupt being a part of a wonderful community.”
About 40 volunteers worked at a large garden at DTE Energy Gardens, where they harvested 3,000 pounds of corn, beans, peppers, kale and other vegetable that will go to families who can’t afford the high price of organic produce.
On the brink of fall, weather temperatures hit mid 70s, which made the volunteers who worked outside happy. “It’s really nice out and I wanted to be outside today,” said City Year volunteer Marisa Gonzalo. “My mom has a giant garden so I love doing that.”
“This is a new addition for us to come to the DTE Energy Garden. It couldn’t be a more perfect day to be out here,” said Rev. John Miller of First Congregational Church in Royal Oak.
By the end of the day, the work yielded impressive results: More than 4,000 boxes of food were prepared at Focus: HOPE; volunteers working with Kids Against Hunger packaged 11,000 meals; nearly 3,000 educational kits were created for local schools to teach students about healthy eating; and 120 bagged lunches were put together, to be passed out to the homeless by Care-A-Van volunteers.