Giving back during the holidays a decision you’ll never regret

Published 5:08 pm Thursday, December 17, 2015

The holiday season is about celebrating with family and friends and looking forward to a new year full of possibilities. It is also a wonderful time to give back to our community.

Many families need basic supplies during the winter. I look forward to continuing my annual tradition of helping meet the needs of struggling Southwest Michigan families.

Last year, I donated toys for local children, helped raise money for area food banks and teamed up with J&B Medical Supply to donate nearly 8,000 diapers to the Great Start Collaborative of Berrien County. The diapers were then distributed to local families through shelters, home visiting programs and community organizations.

One way to give back during the holiday and throughout the year is to contribute to a local food bank. This summer, I donated food to the Salvation Army Food Pantry of Niles, which was running low on supplies. For residents who also wish to donate, the pantry is located at 424 N. 15th St. in Niles.

The Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank in Benton Harbor is a nonprofit organization dedicated to distributing donated food to people in need. In 2013, they distributed 2.63 million pounds of food through their partner agencies in Berrien, Van Buren and Cass counties.

Residents can donate food to the food bank at 1488 E. Empire Ave. in Benton Harbor. You can also learn how to run your own food drive or make an online financial donation at

Many families give back during the holidays by supporting a local charity. For those looking for a charity to support, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette offers a helpful resource to help donors make the most of their generous charitable gifts this holiday season.

The AG’s Charitable Trust site at allows visitors to search for charities, check on an organization’s license and learn more about the laws they must follow. The site also includes links to consumer alerts and advice for donors.

This holiday season, I encourage area residents to consider giving back and helping make Southwest Michigan a stronger community. It is a decision you will never regret.


Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents Southwest Michigan.