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During this season of giving, the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit continues to focus on building better communities and a better us.

For the past 3 years the YMCA’s Healthy Living and Life Skills branch has provided fresh holiday baskets with a handwritten holiday card to families in need within our communities. The purpose of the Fresh Basket is to ensure that families in need have access to nutritious foods to prepare and share for Thanksgiving.

The food in the baskets is fresh and local. Volunteers felt good delivering healthier food and the recipients were happy preparing these meals for their families. Food assistance programs don’t provide enough food for a family to have a true Thanksgiving meal, so the fresh basket allowed them that opportunity.

Recipients and volunteers alike had great things to say about the impact of the fresh basket project.

Sandra, a senior member from the Livonia Family YMCA shared the following –

“The Y has saved my life.  I can’t stress enough the importance of exercise. I had a liver transplant; I was very ill, close to dying. My doctor told me I was going to lose the organ so graciously donated to me. I was devastated. My new liver was not receiving enough blood flow. Unemployed, with little income, I turned to the Y and they didn’t turn me away. They started me on an exercise program. I came every day. Soon, I began to improve. I went from taking 13 medications to two and saved my transplanted liver. I am now 62 and its 15 years later and I am still going to the Y, doing well. The Y is my second family, thank you to all of the employees for all you do, from the bottom of my heart.”

When asked about the fresh basket she received she said, “I am on food assistance which comes to about $20/week, so I couldn’t afford a turkey dinner. This food will last a week or more, it was the kindest thing that has happened in a long time.  It brought me to tears.”

Another senior from the Livonia Y reported:

“Having to pay for several prescriptions on a fixed income leaves limited funds for anything else. The fresh basket project was such a blessing.”

From a team member working with a 3rd grader at Ellen Thompson Elementary School-

“He was sure that he was going to hate kiwi because “no one wants to eat a fuzzy potato,” he tried a piece and fell in love with it. Every week he would come back and tell me that his parents bought kiwis for him to eat at home.”

From a parent at Oakside Elementary School –

“The hands-on approach to food was a great idea. The kids used cinnamon to spice up the apples in their lunches, and they loved it. We tried the ‘healthy apple pie’ at home several times; we added different apples and tried it with graham crackers to see what different flavors we could get.”

From a team member working with a 4 yr old pre-school student at Kennedy Elementary school –

“After receiving oranges in their lunches many of the children requested help opening them. Staff helped get them started, but encouraged them to try themselves. One student became very determined to open his without help. After 15 minutes of working at it he succeeded and exclaimed: “I know I’m strong because I peeled my whole orange.” He was so proud, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a student enjoy eating an orange so much.”

Fresh baskets are just one of the ways the Y helps provide communities with fresh, healthy schools. With help from local partners we have provided over 182,000 healthy meals and snacks to over 800 children in our programs. Some of the children have never seen or eaten the fruits and vegetables we are able to offer.

We’re committed to building a better community, which means we are constantly working to raise the bar on what we provide to kids families. But we can’t do it without you. We invite you to join us by giving a gift to make sure all members of our community have access to these life changing programs.

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