Thanksgiving menu-- 'Feeding 200' project to give needy a boost

By Debra Talcott

Legal News

When it comes to supporting a worthy cause, attorneys have long been known to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

Likewise, law school students are encouraged to make public service an important part of their training. To that end, students at the Auburn Hills Campus of Cooley Law School have been working since early in the fall term to gather food and monetary donations to provide Thanksgiving dinners for 200 Oakland County families in need.

For the second consecutive year, Cooley student Emery McClenden has organized the "Cooley Cares: Feeding 200" drive.

"The idea for the project originated in 2008," says McClenden, who is involved in several student organizations on campus. "I knew many groups wanted to sponsor a family or two for the holidays, so I thought if we had synergy, worked together, and pooled our resources, we could make a greater impact."

McClenden formed a committee of fellow students and community leaders who took on the job of requesting donations from student organizations, bar associations, local community groups, and private donors. His committee also set up three drop-off locations on the Auburn Hills campus to make it easy for students and faculty to make donations.

To date, his group has raised nearly $4,000 toward the cost of the turkeys as well as hundreds of cans of vegetables, boxes of stuffing mix, gravy, and other traditional side dishes.

"The Student Bar Association has donated the boxes of mashed potatoes and the jars of gravy; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity has donated the cans of cranberry sauce; professors and students have donated the cans of green beans and corn and boxes of macaroni and cheese and stuffing," says McClenden. "The Law Office of Duane S. Weed has donated the beverages, Thomas M. Cooley's new Ann Arbor campus has donated cake mix and frosting, and Dean Martha Moore has donated the rolls."

Financial contributions from the Oakland County Bar Association, the Straker Bar Association, Kappa Alpha Psi, the Cooley faculty, student organizations, and individual students will cover the cost of the turkeys.

This year McClenden's committee has worked in conjunction with Pontiac High School to identify student families in need. Each Thanksgiving basket will include one turkey, a box of mashed potatoes, a jar of gravy, a can of cranberry sauce, two cans of green beans, two cans of corn, two boxes of macaroni and cheese, two boxes of stuffing mix, a box of rolls, one two-liter beverage, a box of cake mix, one can of frosting, and a gift card to a local supermarket to help each family purchase other necessities.

"We will distribute the baskets from the Cooley - Auburn Hills Campus the Tuesday before Thanksgiving," says McClenden. "Student volunteers will be here from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. to assist the families by carrying items to their vehicles," he explains.

Thanks to the hard work and generosity of so many, 200 area families will celebrate a bountiful Thanksgiving.

"I am very grateful to be on the giving end of this project," says McClenden. "There comes a time when everyone can use a helping hand."

Published: Thu, Nov 19, 2009