The Holiday Helpers announced Community Heart Awards

The Holiday Helpers, a Rochester Hills nonprofit that assists the city’s neediest residents, has awarded this year’s Community Heart Awards to managers of the city’s new Meijer store and Michigan First Credit Union. The awards were presented Nov. 8 during a Rochester Hills City Council meeting. 

Meijer and Michigan First Credit Union were honored “for opening their hearts and helping many in the community in which they reside,” said Suzanne White, Executive Director of The Holiday Helpers.

The Holiday Helpers has had a long and successful relationship with Meijer, which hosts an annual Shop With A Hero event, which pairs local children with Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputies to purchase Christmas gifts for the children’s families. Tom Livernois, who managed Meijer’s first Rochester Hills store and opened the new store on Adams, brought his collaboration with the Holiday Helpers with him. This year school supplies were added to the store’s donation and were delivered in August. “You can’t imagine kids being so excited to receive school supplies,” White said.

Michigan First Credit Union, which has a branch inside the new Meijer, was introduced by Livernois to The Holiday Helpers. The credit union sponsored a five-minute shopping spree and donated an amount equal to the winner’s take to Holiday Helpers. The shopper herself donated much of what she won to The Holiday Helpers.

“Whether they know it or not, they have almost covered the bill for our food baskets this Christmas,” White said.

The Holiday Helpers is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that was created to assists low-income city residents with gifts, food and other assistance, especially at the holidays. All assistance is delivered anonymously. With no overhead, 100 percent of donations go to Rochester Hills residents in need.

“Even though Rochester Hills is a very affluent community, we still have seniors and some families that are in a tough spot at times and need that extra helping hand,” White said. “Our families don’t know who we are or why they are the recipient. We don’t ask why; we never tell who and we only stay in our own community. What sets us a part from all the other charities in our area is that we do everything in costume and never, ever tell who we are.”

This year’s Christmas program will be in memory of Judy Bialk, a city employee who died suddenly and unexpectedly over the summer.

“Judy always had a smile, a contagious laugh and was always a friend,” White said. “I will miss her encouraging words when we get tired, her special hugs and her special love for our residents. This year we hope we will make Judy proud.”

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