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2,000 Care Packages in Pontiac (video)

2,000 Care Packages in Pontiac (video)gallowaycollens1

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 22, 2014)

Plastic grocery bags went from hand to hand, table to table, and room to room of the Bowen Senior Center in Pontiac on Sunday. 2,000 bags were filled in total, with the assembly line of over 250 volunteers adding items like vitamin water, fruit snacks, bananas, blankets, gloves, and other food and personal care items. Two tables full of people made fresh sandwiches, complete with slices of meat, lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. Children gathered at a table of their own, coloring messages of hope, blessings and cheer to include.

The day of volunteering involved many organizations in the Pontiac area, brought together by gardenfreshADthe The Clarence E. Phillips Ascend Foundation. The Red Hat Society could be easily spotted in the crowd, as well as the Brownie Troops that were present. Other groups included Simply Helping Foundation, NPG Foundation, Greek Mayhem, Leilani House of Angels, Discount Pharmacy, Walgreens, Forgotten Harvest, Kicks 4 Kids, Secreto, and 4 Brothers Lounge and Martini Bar.

With so many helping hands – and lots of prep work by the core volunteers – the whole process took half the time planned, just one hour. But the energy and love in the room kept smiles on people’s faces much longer. “See you next year,” was heard from many in the group who keep this an annual tradition.waterwork

Once complete, the packages were loaded up and delivered to service organizations through Pontiac and beyond.

Jamal Harper, a lifelong resident of Pontiac and member of Ascend, said he was there to “help those less fortunate and be a comfort to those in need.”

“The reason this is important is to make sure we are providing service to all those within our community. This is the holiday season. The importance of the holiday season is not receiving, it is sidebar01sponsoralso giving. Today we’re giving back to our community,” said County Commissioner David Bowman who did his part on the assembly line putting bags of Sun Chips in the care packages.

Brenda Simpson brought her niece Ashley, two daughter-in-laws and several grandchildren out to volunteer. The family took places among those at the sandwich station, with even the littlest grandchild passing pieces of bread with pride. When asked why this was important to her and her family, Simpson said “just to get out, and be around people, and show love. Whatever it is you may be going through there is hope. And the love that is showing in this community is beautiful.”

Learn more about the Clarence E. Phillips Ascend Foundation at

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