The Annual Thing Where MGoBloggers Save Christmas

Submitted by Seth on November 29th, 2013 at 8:26 AM

'Tis this season:


Saturday, December 7 is that annual charity event I help coordinate and MGoBlog readers have helped keep alive. Each year in early December we go to a couple of homeless shelters and throw the kids in there a giant Christmas party. Click for Genesis House Wish ListThere's photos with Santa, games, dancing, arts & crafts, nail painting, food, etc. Then while the young 'uns are distracted, their parents "shop" for gifts for them in a "gift store" filled with donated new toys and stuff, a goodly portion of which MGoReaders sent from Amazon. Then everyone comes together for pizza and cake and dancing.

We call it "Adopt a Shelter." There are two sites:

  1. Salvation Army's Denby Center (formerly the Booth Evangeline Center). A big party run by Mitch Albom's Time to Help organization (one I'm at). Key person is Rachel Williams.
  2. Genesis II House. A great women and children's shelter where Julie has kept the event going.

My involvement is closer with the former. For the latter Julie needs about 20 volunteers, each who bring gift donations. Hers is a bit more low-key. Email Julie if you want to volunteer there [UPDATE 12/2: They still need about 7 more volunteers). As for the Denby Center one, a bit more detail:

Stocking the Store

We need gifts.


Gift donations should be unwrapped, tasteful, and between $15-$20. Stuff that needs batteries should come with batteries. No guns, no swords, no violent comic books. Historically we tend to fall short with stuff for young moms.

  • AGE RANGE: The age of the children range from 9 months to 16 years old. Here's the numbers the shelter expected to have as of this week:
    Age of Residents Boys Girls
    Age 0-2 10 11
    Age 3-5 5 5
    Age 6-10 5 10
    Age 11-14 6 5
    Age 15-17 - 6
    Adults (Age 19-68) - 67
  • SIZES: A variety of sizes ranging from newborn to 3X are needed. The larger sizes (2X and 3X are for girls.)
  • TOYS: Age-appropriate toys and educational toys are needed.
  • CLOTHES: Winter in Detroit. Also a reminder that all young adults and teens, no matter their station, care about style. It may seem counterintuitive but one really nice thing is more appreciated than a package of four just-the-thing things.
  • TOILETRIES: All types of toiletries are needed, except NOTHING with ALCOHOL in it. Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Body Lotion, Women’s Deodorant, Body Wash, Soap, Washcloths, Towels.
  • How much stuff each family gets depends on how much stuff is donated. The remainder is always left to the shelters since they—as you can imagine—have a high turnover. Before March it's all given out.

For the last few years we've found putting up an Amazon Wish List makes it pretty easy—you're welcome to find things not on the list. Gifts are usually $15-$20. But you don't have to use that—for example Moe's is having a 30% off sale today.

Things they asked for specifically: Leap Frog/other learning games, Puzzles, Winter Clothes/Gear (children and women's M, L, and XL especially), Barbies, Super Hero Toys, Legos, Winter Coats, Toy Trucks, Baby Dolls, Adult Pajamas, Clothing and Accessories for Newborns, Baby Strollers for Parents, Brat Dolls, Pants/Leggings, Little People Toys, Board Games, Baby Alive Dolls, Toddler Toys, Books, Hand Soap, Deodorant, Tooth Brushes/Toothpaste, Lotion, Baby Wipes, Diapers, Feminine Products, Socks for Adult Women and Children, Underwear for Adult Women and Children

For donations to the Booth party, send them to Detroit Rescue Ministries (default address on that wish list link) at:

Time to Help Christmas Party
c/o Rachel Williams
150 West Stimson Street
Detroit, MI  48201

Poor Rachel's office is usually just completely stacked with boxes by Friday.



Join us on Saturday, December 7, 2013.  One thing you might do is try to pump out 190 photos with Santa from two little portable printers (yes they'll both be working this year—sorry about that). Another is serve bagels. Or man the gift store. Or one lady reader last year came up with the idea of having the kids make picture frames for their Santa photos.

Site info:

Denby Center

20775 Pembroke
Detroit, MI. 48219
Phone 313.537.2130

South of 8-mile between Evergreen and Lahser

Set up will begin at 8 a.m., and the party will be open to the residents beginning at 10 a.m. with an ending time of 1 p.m.

The party, which will provide breakfast and lunch to those in attendance, as well as an arts and craft station for children, a manicure and spa room for the mothers, a game center for teens, a store for the mothers to shop for their children and Santa and Mrs. Clause at the end, will need full volunteer support!

We are asking each volunteer to bring at least 1 gift to include in our gift shop. To register for the event go to (it's the only event on the calendar at the moment since the 2014 calendar isn't up yet).


I will have an updated list shortly for what we don't have confirmed, since this has changed since I checked in last. But I believe we still need:

  • Breakfast confections (donuts, bagels, orange juice, coffee, fruit, etc.)
  • Games for teen game centerIMG_1941
  • Ice cream and cake
  • Arts and crafts materials
  • Nail salon artists and nail polish
  • Holiday decorations


Rachael Williams
A Time to Help Coordinator
SAY Detroit
[email protected]
313-993-4700 ext. 4715

Why Is a Charity on a Sports Blog?

Because I'm involved and I work here, dammit. But some backstory: this event used to be one of two put on by Volunteer Impact (I was a board member of that), which mostly existed to help service organizations find volunteers for their projects, but had a few signature events of its own. This was one of those events.

When we closed down VI, we lost the donor base for this and the other thing. It looked for a time like it would end, until 1) Mitch Albom, through his Time to Help organization, and longtime volunteer Julie Kroflich, stepped up to keep their two sites alive; and 2) Brian let me put up a post on it and MGoBloggers came through, stocking the store with donations and showing up to volunteer. Since then MGoBloggers' donations have been the engine that's kept it going.

The other event was "Hands on Detroit," a Detroit spring cleanup thing that the Ilitch Foundation took over. They meet at Comerica Park on a Saturday and go around making the city look nice for summer.

Can't I Just Give You Money?

Yeah, but give it to the organization putting the event not, not me. If you can't find something on the Amazon lists above, donate to S.A.Y. Detroit, the umbrella organization Time to Help, and specify in the comments that this is for the "Time to Help Christmas Party."