DETROIT — Students carrying bags of donated clothing to West Outer Drive United Methodist Church in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit on Saturday were greeted by the scent of freshly baked lasagna wafting from the kitchen as they began preparing for the Detroit Partnership’s ninth annual One Stop Shop.
As part of the One Stop Shop event, the Detroit Partnership — a student group at the University that provides volunteer opportunities in the Detroit area — held an event for low-income Detroit residents to pick out clothing and food donated by members of the Ann Arbor community. Beneficiaries and volunteers gathered in the church dining room to enjoy a home cooked meal before proceeding to the basement to pick out clothing.
The partnership provides a range of services throughout the year, with One Stop Shop being the highlight of the fall term. In the spring, the group hosts DP Day, a service event that usually draws more than 1,000 student volunteers to Detroit.
Albert Rush, pastor of the church, said the One Stop Shop program has a different focus than many other charities, and one of its main goals is to provide the disadvantaged with necessities such as clothing and food, while upholding their dignity and honor.
“What we want people to do is when they walk out the door, to know that somebody cares about them,” Rush said. “We think we’re volunteering for them, but it gives us a chance to show our humanity.”
According to Rush, the Detroit partnership and church have been collecting food and clothes for the event in both Ann Arbor and Brightmoor since August.
“We want people to get good quality stuff,” Rush said, “Not just stuff that’s thrown there, and depending on how much inventory we have, (beneficiaries) can get as much as (they) want.”
Rush said the program expected to serve about 200 people throughout the day. He added that the tough economy had increased demand for their services and decreased contributions this year.
LSA senior Cassie Basler, executive director of the Detroit Partnership, said the program impacts both the students and beneficiaries involved.
“What I thought was really moving was how honest people were about the life experiences they’ve had,” Basler said. “People come in with newborn kids, and they don’t even have a stroller.”
Basler said the collection process in Ann Arbor typically picks up around Halloween, when the partnership trick-or-treats for canned food and non-perishables. Later in the semester, the group sets out colored boxes around campus in which students can donate clothes.
Linda Fulgham, a beneficiary of the program, said students were hospitable, and she felt at home shopping at the church.
“Everything’s been great, everything’s been helpful, everything’s been beautiful and it’s good to give to the ones that need,” Fulgham said. “Puts a lot of smiles on faces.”