Celebrity server dinner will assist Crawford County Community Christian Help Center
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A Grayling eatery and a community organization are hosting a dinner with special servers to help bolster the food on the shelves for the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center.
A celebrity server dinner will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, April 15, at the Gray Rock Pub & Grub, 2123 Industrial Drive, Grayling.
Michelle Bond, the co-owner of the Grayling Rock Pub & Grub, said she heard the Help Center was in need of some extra support while she was attending services as the St. John Lutheran Church.
“The food pantry is in need because they had a long winter and people are utilizing the food and everything there,” she said.
Indeed, that has been the case. Cindy Hummel, the director for the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center, said for the first three months of this year, 670 clients came to the food pantry, and were provided with food for up to 8,400 meals. Hummel said that is a slight increase over the typical demand for food and assistance.
She attributed the demand to a variety of reasons.
First, the fire at Arbor Court Apartments located at 400 Madsen Street in the City of Grayling, which occurred on March 1. The blaze displaced all residents from the 16-unit apartment complex.
“We wanted to be able to support those families however that we could,” Hummel said.
Next, the government shutdown, which lasted 35 days, impacted people who receive food assistance through Michigan’s Bridge Card program. Instead of allocating funds in the middle of the month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services decided to release funding for February in January because it was unclear how long funding would last for the program during the shutdown.
Unable to budget the funds on a monthly basis, residents were left without food assistance for a period of time.
“We found in a lot of instances, that didn’t last our clients as long as they usually do on a monthly basis,” Hummel said. “We had a lot of repeat clients in one month, where we usually don’t do that.”
Normally, clients can only come to the food pantry once a month.
“We knew that was a problem so we let them come in more than they usually do,” Hummel said.
On a busy day at the Help Center last week, clients were coming in back to back to fill up bags of food.
“We have our ups and downs and today is very busy,” Hummel said.
Area residents who go away for the winter months are starting to come back to the community and are picking up shifts at the Help Center.
“That helps us through the summer months,” Hummel said.
Local Boy Scouts will be picking up food donated to the Help Center through the Scouting For Food Program on Saturday, April 13. The bags were dropped off at area homes this past weekend.
Volunteers are making Easter baskets and packaging Easter meals for families in need this week through Thursday, April 18.
The Help Center is also getting ready to plant seeds for the community garden, which is organized by the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center.
Last year, Jim’s Well Drilling installed a water well at the garden for irrigation.
“Now that we have water and we have lights, there is a lot more interest being drummed up for the community garden,” Hummel said. “Our goal is to bring fresh vegetables in here.”
Hummel said the Help Center and its volunteers will support the dinner any way they can.
The event is being co-sponsored by the Grayling Rock Pub & Grub and the Rotary Club of Grayling, which meets at the restaurant every Wednesday.
Stylists from Heads Up North will serve as the celebrity servers, where Bond also works.
“We wanted to do this as a combined effort,” she said.
A portion of meal sales will go to the Help Center along with tips left for the celebrity servers. Those who attend the event, who will not have to prepare their own meals for the evening, are encouraged to bring in canned goods for the food pantry.
“That will definitely help stock our shelves,” Hummel said.
Hummel assumed the position as director at the Help Center on Jan. 1. She previously served as an assistant director and volunteer five years.
She succeeds Dora Mead, who served as the director for one year and was an assistant director and volunteer there for five years.
“It’s a powerful little engine,” Hummel said of the organization. “This is a very giving community and it’s amazing with the financial donations and the donations of food that come in just from off the streets.”