DETROIT — Seventy percent of the people who reside in Brightmoor, a neighborhood on Detroit’s far west side, live below the poverty line, according to Karen Plants, executive director of the Redford Brightmoor Initiative. Saturday marked the 13th annual One Stop Shop, a charity event in which appliances, winter clothing, food and toys are distributed to residents who reside in Brightmoor and neighboring Redford.

This year, the Detroit Partnership, a University student group, helped distribute donations to more than 300 families.

The event was held at the Brightmoor campus of the Redford Aldersgate United Methodist Church. The drive was organized much like department store, though all of the items are free. All clients were paired with a personal shopper and are provided a full grocery bag of food. There was no criteria for admission.

After families waited in the pews until their appointment time, no area of the church was off limits. Appliances were being distributed in a room across from the chapel, and volunteers served a free meal in the kitchens housed beneath the church. Personal shoppers acted as guides to families shopping, serving lemonade and cookies to those in line.

One shopper in attendance, who asked to not be named, said she was using One Stop Shop for the second time. After losing her job last year, she said the event helped eased the financial burden of buying her grandkids gifts for the holiday.

LSA senior Danielle Wallick, major events director for The Detroit Partnership, said it was her second time working at One Stop Shop, and noted this was the first year organizers implemented timed appointments to ease the shopping process.

“Last year people would just start lining up at 6 a.m. or earlier and that’s how it’s been for like the past 10 years,” she said.

Wallick added that, though people can sign up for an appointment time the day of the event, most appointments were made a month prior.

Beside collecting food and clothing on campus, The Detroit Partnership launched an online campaign to help fund the purchase of appliances and toys for One Stop Shop.

“Last year we raised almost $2,500,” Wallick said. “This year, I was completely shocked and amazed when I saw that we had raised over $4,200.”

The Redford Brightmoor Initiative, which organizes the event each year, is a nonprofit sponsored by the Redford Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Additional funding for One Stop Shop comes from Eagles for Children, a nonprofit that partners with area country clubs to raise money for disadvantaged children. Often, the money from Eagles for Children goes specifically toward acquiring toys for One Stop Shop. This year, Plants said she made sure the event also put an emphasis on the collection of children’s coats and boots.

“Every time a member shoots an eagle, which is a golf term, every member chips in two dollars,” Plants said. “We had a grant from in the past to buy toys, but this year we expanded it to coats and boots, which I just think is really needed in this neighborhood.”

Reverend Jonathan Combs has been with the parish since July, and helped facilitate the event. Though he has only been with the community a short time, he said he has gained an understanding of the unique challenges of a poor urban neighborhood.

“We’re a poor neighborhood, but not poor in spirit,” said Combs.

The church’s former reverend, Courtney Williams, created the Brightmoor Free Store last year — a program inspired by the One Stop Shop — which offers clothing and food to community members every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“Folks come not only to get free stuff, but they come for community, to be a part of friends in the neighborhood,” Comb said. “And we’re all neighbors.”

Plants said Brightmoor’s church community is one that takes care of its own.

“Half the volunteers here today are from the neighborhood, and I have a faithful core of volunteers that are here every week,” Plants said. “Whatever needs to be done, they show up. They feel it’s important to give back for the blessings they’ve received.”

Plants added that she was afraid there would not be enough donated items to serve the community’s demands, but said the people who care about this community — University students included — had come through incredibly. She said University students came out to volunteer both the night before and the day of the event.

Public Policy senior Kristy Landis is a member of The Detroit Partnership’s executive board. Throughout the year, Landis said, the partnership volunteers with programs for Detroit communities, schools and sports teams. There are eight or nine programs in Brightmoor which run once a week during the school year.

“Brightmoor is a pretty small community in Detroit, but it’s one of the most blighted,” Landis said. “It’s a really important way to make sure that so many members of the community have a better holiday.”

While community service is important, Landis said it’s important that volunteers are mindful of the implications of entering a community like Brightmoor for just one day, as opposed to a more long-term immersion in the neighborhood.

“The need for that area and the concerns they have are very different than mine living in Ann Arbor,” she said. “I think it’s very important for people to see that firsthand.”

Wallick said she was glad The Detroit Partnership gets to be a part of this event, but cautioned against overstating the University’s involvement.

“It’s the community that’s running it, we’re just here to service-learn, which is part of our mission statement,” Wallick said. “ I don’t think that it works as well when outside people come in and try to do their own events and stuff. The community has to take the lead.”

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