Oakland County staff raised over $50,000 for different charities in 2015

Generosity is the quality of being kind, understanding and not selfish. That captures the essence of Oakland County employees and their charitable giving.

A week before Christmas, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson presented 19 local charities with checks totaling $31,500. The proceeds were raised by employees participating in the county’s Casual Day program through which they may donate $1 to charity in order to wear jeans to work. Since its inception 23 years ago, county employees have given $800,000 to support those in need.

“Our county employees are among the most generous individuals I know, whether it is donating their time or money,” Patterson said.

It was an extraordinary year for the Casual Day program.  Besides the $31,500 shared by organizations such as the Canine Advocacy Program in Novi, The Rainbow Connection in Rochester and HAVEN in Bingham Farms, Oakland County staff gave an additional $19,500 on special casual days which have designated recipients.

Among those was the family of Michigan State Trooper Chad Wolf. His tragic death while on patrol in northern Oakland County captured local headlines last summer.  County employees were so motivated to help the trooper’s family that they broke a special casual day record by donating $7,000.

That outpouring of support grabbed the attention of Col. Kriste Etue, the director of the Michigan State Police. In a Sept. 23 letter to Patterson she wrote, “It is at times like this that we most appreciate the support from the communities we serve.”

Michele Schultz, an executive secretary with the county, puts in countless hours coordinating the county’s annual charity pledge campaign. For the past two years she has encouraged co-workers to participate through payroll deductions. Through her efforts, county employees together have donated tens of thousands of dollars to worthy charities.

In addition, Schultz coordinates special events such as a bake sale, pop can drive and the annual Halloween pumpkin charity auction, which raised about $4,000. But it’s how giving transforms her colleagues that really inspires Schultz.

“The issue is not just about money, it’s about people’s passion and that is awesome,” Schultz said.

Another county employee motivating others to make a difference is Lisa R. Smith, supervisor of the county’s Community Corrections Division. Since 2002, she and her co-workers have collected toys, non-perishable food, and pet supplies to benefit The Baldwin Center in Pontiac, Lighthouse of Oakland County and Oakland County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center. The Baldwin Center and Lighthouse serve low-income families who need food, clothing or housing.

Community Corrections collects the items in decorated bins in county government buildings in Pontiac, Waterford and Southfield in November and December. Then just in time for Christmas, Smith and her colleagues deliver the donations.

“Employees here are very giving,” Smith said. “It’s about the joy of being able to help families in need”

Oakland County employee donations will help Lighthouse assist 250 families over the 2015 Christmas season.

“It was a delight to hear we’re able to help these families,” Smith said.