By Jake May The Flint Journal
FLINT, Mich. — As Michigan State Police troopers Katelyn Hammond and Steve Kramer walked up the driveway, Kevin Young was already standing in the doorway.
His 1-year-old son Dominic, in his arms, Young called out to the police. It was an invitation, as they came bearing a box full of food for a Thanksgiving feast.
Young, a Flint resident, has been out of work for 10 months after an injury. His wife Barbara has garnered the sole income for their household, which includes daughter Barbie, 9, and sons Benjamin, 2, and Dominic. The family has made a lot of hard choices this year financially, trying to ensure their children have their best lives.
The Youngs found out recently they are expecting twins in March. He said the couple has lost a lot this year, and were on the verge of losing their house, and could not be more thankful that his family was chosen to receive one of 100 boxes that were hand-delivered to individuals and families in need statewide.
“It was a surprise, as we’d never expect to receive this gift. We’ve really struggled on one income. My kids are going to be happy, as we’re going to have a good Thanksgiving now,” Young said as he began to tear up. “When somebody needs it, it means a lot, you know? So for this and for the Michigan State Police, I’m so very gracious and very thankful.
“If it wasn’t for family and friends this year, we wouldn’t be here. We’ve lost everything else and just when everything is going wrong, an angel appears on your shoulder. And by God’s good grace, we’re holding onto our house. I want to try to get back to work, and I just hope next year, everything will be better.”
This is the third year MSP and Kroger have partnered to provide the Thanksgiving dinners in central and southeast Michigan, with participating MSP posts including Lansing, Jackson, Monroe, Brighton, Metro North, Metro South, Flint, Lapeer, Tri-City and Mount Pleasant.
Hammond identified local households through the department’s CAUTION initiative, which stands for Community Action United Team in Our Neighborhood. She worked with local pastors to help bring relief and a needed meal to homes who may otherwise not have had a holiday dinner.
Flint resident Lynn Crayton flashed a few smiles as she received her gift. She was enthusiastic to share her gratefulness for her pastor to consider her home for this honor.
“I’m very thankful for this meal, and have something to share with my grandkids and kids now,” she said.
The boxes included a whole roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, Hawaiian sweet rolls and a pumpkin pie. Each meal donation will feed a family of 6-8 and includes a turkey and traditional sides.
Five boxes were dropped at Flint’s North End Soup Kitchen, where cook Angie Gatica said the food will go a long way. Gatica said on Thanksgiving, the soup kitchen, located at 735 E. Stewart Ave., will feed more than 200 people at noon. She said it important, now more than ever, to provide meal options.
Gatica said residents rely on locations like the soup kitchen, as many in Flint live on assistance. That money does not stretch well, she said, especially when people have children. She said healthy food is very expensive and hard for parents in these situations.
“This program, and our relationship with the MSP, allows us to continue our fight against hunger in the state, supporting our Zero Hunger and Zero Waste mission,” Rachel Hurst, Consumer Affairs Manager for Kroger. “It also helps community members build stronger relationships with troopers.”
Hammond and Kramer traveled throughout Flint’s north side, toting meals to residents on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The duo are each community service troopers, and want to help make positive interactions between police and residents. This, Hammond said, is one of many ways the department works toward achieving that.
“It’s a great opportunity to have some one-on-one contact, as they are part of the community we serve,” Hammond said. “It’s been a great opportunity for us to have this partnership with Kroger and be able to give back to the community that actually gives us so much, too.”