Northville Civic Concern Donations Down
Letter Carrier Drive helped, but much more needed, volunteers say.
In 28 years of operation, Marlene Kunz has never had as much reason for concern as she has now.
With the rising cost of living and unemployment rates in Michigan, she’s worried families in Northville aren’t receiving the help they need to just make ends meet. That’s why she runs the Northville Civic Concern, an all-volunteer organization whose purpose is to help those in need with food.
Citizens donate food, and every year in May, the organization partners with the Northville Post Office for one day to run a letter carrier food drive.
On that day, in addition to doing their normal duties, letter carriers also pick up food donations left on porches and curbs to bring back to the Civic Concern, located at 42951 Seven Mile Rd. at the end of their shifts. But this year, donations were not what Kunz expected.
“Percentage wise it was down,” she said. “When we are down it hurts us and it hurts the families we help. It was down last year and it was down the year before but it has always been very good in the past.”
Kunz said it was worse this year than she has ever seen. In fact, she had volunteers who sat for hours at a time without anything to do.
Earlier this year Civic Concern sent an email to the Northville Public Schools, one of its biggest supporters, expressing how dire its need is for goods.
"The Rotary Interact Club (Northville High) did not meet because there was no donated food to sort and shelve," according to the email. "The freezers, which normally hold the meat and bread donations, are totally empty, and this was the first Easter in Civic Concern’s history that not a single ham was donated to us for distribution to any clients."
But she is still grateful for those who contributed, and for those who do so on a regular basis.
“Anything anybody does helps and is regarded as a miracle,” said Kunz. “When someone walks in and gives us $10, that helps. There are people who do that.”
Kunz estimated Civic Concern received about 11,000 pounds of food this year, though she can’t be 100 percent sure because the organization doesn’t have scales to weigh the food. In the past upwards of 20,000 pounds were received – a sign, she believes is due to the poor Michigan economy.
Betty Karsetn, a veteran letter carrier at the Northville Post Office, also noticed the dwindling numbers this year.
“Everyone is cutting back on what they have to spend or donate,” said Karsten. “All families have been effected by the tough times either through job loss or pay cuts, high gas prices, health cost increases, rising utilities and other household expenses cutting into cash flow. Less people can afford to give and yet more people are in need. It's a very sad situation.”
Karsten feels fortunate to have citizens who donate throughout Northville. “I like that the post office does this drive as a show of support and care to the community we serve all year long,” she said.
One message that Kunz and Karsten both want to get across is, when people donate at any time of year, to make sure the food is not expired.
“Our mission is to make life a little bit better for people,” said Kunz. “Whether it’s a senior citizen or a family. It doesn’t cost anything to put a smile on your face and greet someone who walks in looking for some help. I have found that there are more rewards and joy in giving then being on the receiving end, and as far as the whole concept of the letter carriers, we’re very grateful for their support.”
The Northville Civic Concern serves approximately 100 families in the city of Northville and Northville Township. It is funded primarily by the contributions of Northville community residents. In addition to monetary contributions, Civic Concern accepts donations of canned goods, cereal, paper products, soap and cleaning items, and baby products and all donations are tax deductible. To learn more or to donate, call 248-344-1033.