Sunday, August 22, 2010

Giving up the Booty

The Motor City Mad Men (right) stand by some of their donations. Rob (below) hands out a voucher, while Yvette Saylor sorts.

While many people may have spent their Sunday morning on wooden pews or reading the Times with a cup of coffee, my husband Rob and I were surrounded by wenches, maidens, knights and even fairies.

No, we weren't watching the SciFi Channel, we were at the Renaissance Festival in Holly.

"Oh my God," Rob said. "They're in costume."

My husband, though a fan of "Lord of the Rings," is not a fan of dress up. He'll watch any team throw or catch a ball, but watching men in tights, he'll pass: "I hate you."

I have to admit, the Ren Fest isn't exactly a place that I get geared up to visit. I don't read or watch fantasy-type books or movies. I felt like I had entered the set of "Role Models" minus the surly Paul Rudd character.

But we weren't there to hang out and watch jousting matches, we were there to help Lighthouse of Oakland County for its annual food drive. Lighthouse of Oakland County, Inc. provides services to low-income families in order to assist people in becoming self-sufficient. Last year, Lighthouse helped families and individuals on 70,000 occasions. This includes not only providing food, but even emergency funds among other things.

The story remains the same: The poor economy is affecting everyone.

"We are seeing a lot more need," said Holly Ellis, manager of Housing and Wrap-Around Services. "And the need is from people who we wouldn't normally see."

Because it's summer, donations are also down. Before this drive, the pantry was near bare, Ellis said, adding that this food will last only until Thanksgiving.

As we frantically sorted, packaged, and labeled boxes for three and a half hours, we met a lot of people who wanted to give back. It's beyond a great deal to donate the nonperishable goods. Four items will get patrons a voucher for a buy-one-get-one ticket; essentially a free ticket worth about twenty dollars. This deal continues through the weekends until Labor Day.

While there, I worked alongside Yvette Saylor of Clarkston. A true volunteer, Yvette spent thirteen and a half hours this weekend at the food drive. She was a great leader and teammate, helping me locate expiration dates on food items. Yvette helps out at a variety of places, including schools and senior centers. She chose to help out this weekend because it helps those in need she said, adding "And it makes me more grounded in life."

At one point, after stepping away to interview Holly, I came back to a table full of items dropped off by about forty bikers — the Waterford Motor City Mad Men. It took us nearly a half-hour to get all of the food sorted and packed just from that one drop off.

Despite the fact that we worked nearly nonstop, I don't even know if I could call this Sunday's endeavor true volunteering. Both Rob and I were given free tickets to go to the festival, along with food vouchers — and the food is tasty! We were able to wander the booths, see jugglers and get transported to another world, all for a few hours worth of work.

Volunteers are still needed for the upcoming food drives. And for those who love the Renaissance Festival, it's an amazing incentive to work a few hours to get a free ticket to partake in the fun. Lighthouse has plenty of other opportunities available as well, and it can always use donations.

To learn more, visit
To volunteer, call Tricia Pulis at 248-920-6000.


  1. Oh! That sounds like it was a ton of fun. I so want to go the Renaissance Festival just for the food -- I always hear about these amazing things to eat there :-)
    So appropriate that a food drive was on the schedule too!

  2. Bikers have HUGE hearts! But ... errrmmm ... you're sayin' I SHOULDN'T wear my peaked cap and put my hubby in tights with green pointy-toe boots?? What are ye?? A Party Poop? Sorry it wasn't yer cup o' tea, m'dear. Well, I'm off to sharpen my sgian dubh for th' Scottish weekend. You know what a true Scotsman wears under his kilt, don' ye? Nuthin' but his wife's lipstick!