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GP Family Expands Holiday Food Drive

One Grosse Pointe family makes charity a holiday tradition and learns how good giving is for the heart. The food drive involves the entire family, brothers and sisters along with all of their children. It benefits St. Joan of Arc and St. Vincent de Paul.

While most of us were shopping, picking out the Christmas tree, decorating the house, attending holiday parties, that sort of seasonal thing, three generations of one Grosse Pointe family spent weekend time fanning out to more than 1,000 homes in , asking for food for families in need.

This large, close-knit family which has combined their numbers with charity was also doing the usual holiday things and at the same time organizing a food drive for people who are thinking more about their next meal than what will be under the tree.

They were strangers asking strangers in a note stapled to a grocery bag to take that bag and fill it with whatever they could from their pantry and then leave it to be picked up. They hit 1,100 homes in the Shores.

When it was all said and done a week ago, 378 bags were collected for the food in St. Clair Shores for the St. Vincent D'Paul pantry.

"We were so impressed…I thought maybe we would get 150 bags, that people might be like 'What?'"said Shannan McCarron, one member of the large family that has found helping others not only feels good bug can be fun.

"What's great is it's literally going to families in our community," said McCarron, a mother of five, including twins. She lives in the and attends St. Joan of Arc.

The group is made up of McCarron, her five siblings, Danny McCann, a Shores resident who pulled the family in on a food drive in another city years ago, Jennifer Buszka, who lives in the , Margaret Case, who lives in the and her twin Michelle Totin, of Royal Oak and another brother Jeff McMann of Canton. 

Their spouses and their children, 14 of them, also go as do grandparents Dan and Sandy McCann of the Woods. Friends join in too.

"We had strength in numbers," McCarron said.

The family has participated in a very similar grass roots food drive for at least seven years, but in Berkley with Danny's McCann's friend, Bob Mondt. He and his wife, Rachel, live in Royal Oak. He started the food drive 24 years ago when he was 13. 

"We always talked about starting this in our community. finally after seven years we did it."

Alissa and Danny McCann's children, oldest daughter Mara, 13 and her brothers, Colin, 12, and Daniel, 10, went to the Grosse Pointe Shores City Council for approval. They got it and with the bags donated by Kroger they were off.

"I've got to hand it to my brother Danny, he corralled us all in," she said. "I'm telling you if this could catch on…to see the kids…," she said. "They're having fun, they're learning about helping others.

The family hopes to expand next year, pulling in more Grosse Pointe families to help and more cities to participate.

"This is another testament to the community we live in," McCarron said. "So many people commented about it and wanted to help out, where can I drop off.

"Hopefully it will spread. I think it would be so cool for this to become an all Grosse Pointes food drive," McCarron said.

Years ago, the project was a bit of a chore. It came the day after an annual Christmas party for the McCarrons, and they could have used sleeping in. Her youngest children, twins who are now 10, were four when they started. The kids in the family range in age from 6 months to 15 years old.

"I couldn't even fathom it," she said. "We would manage to get up and do it, and it really it helped alleviate the boredom of the kids during that time. We went out there and we would drive around. I had no idea how much the kids would love it. They would literally scream with glee."

It's a sight. Cars with hatches and trunks open cruise down the streets while the kids run house to house, leaving the bags. The following week it's repeated, but with yells of "there's one!" and a race to get to the door first to retrieve the food-filled bags.

This year McCarron had the teenage crew. 

"We gave those guys the big streets, Oxford, Renaud. They're literally racing each other. When you think about it here are teenagers having so much fun doing such good work for the community," said McCarron, a high school teacher.

Some of the donated food came back with notes written by the anonymous homeowners.

"Another cool thing," McCarron said. "People wrote us notes back, telling us 'Thank you.'"

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