Making Thanksgiving happier for those in need

Notre Dame students coordinate ‘great give’ for distressed families in north Oakland County.

Even though Oakland County is known as one of the wealthiest areas in the country, many people are surprised to learn that there are families in need. In fact, the need not only exists, but is growing at an alarming rate, according to Oxford/Orion FISH, which provides groceries for neighbors in need who live in  Oxford, Lake Orion, Addison and Oakland Townships.

Notre Dame students Nick Durham, a senior, and junior Alex Kocheril were aware of this great need and took matters into their own hands when they recently organized a “Great Give” food drive with local nonprofit Oxford/Orion FISH that collected more than 1,100 items from students and families in the Notre Dame community. 

“FISH helps families to get food and other basic supplies,” said Durham, “and allows them to enjoy the holiday seasons like everyone else. The food also will help the Oxford/Orion FISH pantry to restock after the busy season of Thanksgiving, and help support the next busy time of Christmas.”

Durham worked with middle-division students on the drive and Kocheril coordinated the effort in the upper division.

More on Oxford/Orion FISH: 
While Oxford/Orion FISH works closely with other family-aid agencies to assist the needy, the nonprofit is unique in that it is financially supported almost entirely by private contributions from residents, businesses, area churches and schools. Although the Gleaners, OLHSA (Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency) and Forgotten Harvest give FISH surplus food, most of the food is collected through local food drives conducted by groups such as the Postal Workers, Orion Neighborhood Television (ONTV), schools, businesses, churches, Boy and Girl Scouts and local civic and religious organizations. 

As an overview of its reach to the needy in the community, the following summarizes what Oxford/Orion FISH was able to accomplish in 2015:

• Number of calls for help or service: 4,677
• Number of household visits: 1,858 (155 per month)
• Number of individuals served: 4,258 (355 per month)
• Amount of food dispersed: 163,130 pounds
• Medical help to one of its clients: A Lifeline for an MS patient
• Number of school backpacks: 74 families and 185 children received backpacks filled with school supplies
• Number of Easter dinner baskets: 129 families received dinner baskets
• Number of Thanksgiving dinner baskets: 172 families, including 25 Heritage Place senior housing residents
• Number of Christmas gifts through its AngelFISH program: 202 children received Christmas gifts

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy

Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." The Marist Fathers and Brothers sponsor NDPMA's Catholic identity and manages its educational program. Notre Dame is accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at