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Posted on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

Donations save 18th annual Ypsilanti pre-Thanksgiving dinner

By Katrease Stafford


The 18th annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner will go on as planned this Thursday.

Joseph Tobianski I

An outpouring of support and donations from the local community will allow the 18th Ypsilanti annual pre-Thansgiving dinner to go on as scheduled Thursday.

A lack of funds threatened the annual Behavior Workshop pre-Thanksgiving dinner, organizer Tyrone Bridges said.

Bridges, who is a community activist and director of the Behavior Workshop, said after an initial article ran about the dinner being in danger, he received several inquiries from individuals interested in helping.

"I'm overjoyed about that," he said. "That’s phenomenal. This is the most support we’ve ever had for this dinner."

Bridges said Ypsilanti Public Schools which owns the Perry Child Development Center, where the dinner is usually held, used to waive all of the administrative fees, but no longer does.

Bridges said the district charged $135 to use the gymnasium, $75 to use the kitchen and $84 for a food service worker. Bridges said the district required him to get liability insurance as well.

Due to the donations, which ranged from $25 to $300, the entire dinner and insurance is now covered. Altogether, including what was owed to the school and food, Bridges said the event costs close to $1,000.

Bridges said he is still getting emails and phone calls from local residents, organizations and business owners.

"The majority of emails from people were saying this is an excellent thing you're doing and I'm still receiving those types of contacts," he said. "We were able to add a couple extra food items and buy some tablecloths."

President and CEO of the Washtenaw Federal Credit Union Greg Gurka said they also would be helping out. He said the credit union had been discussing what group it could assist this Thanksgiving, and after Gurka read the article about the dinner, "things fell into place."

"We were not able to cover all the expenses, but did donate $300 to help the dinner move forward," Gurka said. "The credit union is locally-owned, governed and staffed by members of this community. We feel it is important to assist the residents of the community we serve. It ties back to the old credit union philosophy of "people helping people."

Although this year's dinner will take place, Bridges said unless a sponsor is found next year, this dinner could be the last.

"It’s a sad thing and it's going to be a hard thing to tell them unless a sponsor picks it up and the school be more willing to be flexible, next year we might not have it," he said.

Despite this, Bridges said right now his focus is on this year's dinner, which has the capacity to feed up to 300 people.

"When people come, they feel good when they leave," he said. "That’s what the spirit of the dinner is for, it makes people feel good. We’re going to make sure they get the best dinner they’ve ever had."

The event is from 4:45 to 7:45 p.m. on Thursday at the Perry School Gymnasium, located at 633 Harriet St.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Ypsi Eastsider

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

Hope the bank and other donors will get a complete accounting of the money spent after the event. It would help insure any future donations are spent where they were pledged.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Ron, you should be in charge. I tried to explain to Harry the finances involved. For the Public to fund private charities, that money should come from individual or corporate donations, NOT taxes! Once you start funding charities with Public funds, where do you draw the line? I think most all of us agree that we pay enough (if not too much) taxes. If we had to include ALL charities as a part of the Public budget, it would add to the taxes that would have to be collected to pay for them. I am all for the dinner and the charitble organizations and personally support many, however, it is not right that taxpayers would be forced to pay to support them.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

I can't get over the fact that the school system has done this. I could have been their way of donating but no, they need their greedy hands filled with money from people who are trying to help the poor and give them a great meal. And then being charged for a kitchen person to be there also? WHY? Are they afraid nobody knows how to cook? Maybe they should have asked all the employees if anybody wanted to volunteer their time for this wonderful event. I live in the Ypsi school district and my taxes go to the school system and I say waive all the fees, it's not costing you anything for them using your facilities. All that money you have in your account comes from the tax payers of the district and I for one think it was a cold hearted move for them to get charged for this facility. Mr. Bridges, I for one would like to say THANK YOU for doing this. I bet this dinner will happen again next year for sure. I may just have to start looking around the local area and for the perfect place to hold it. I just feel bad that I couldn't do more for this dinner but seeing how the school district is so tight with their money, one night of use would not hurt them one bit. Hats off to you Mr. Bridges, you have my prayers for a very Happy Holiday Season. I bet if one of the employees of the school district needed the facilities for something, it wouldn't cost them a shiny penny at all. Just sad sad sad. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around. I have seen it and delt with it before. I say next school board meeting, everybody jam the room so full and tell them just what we think of how they did this and ask them why? Its not for the money for sure. SO why charge when it's the taxpayers paying the bills that get used in that building. And, sorry about the rant but seeing a story like this really disturbs me quite a bit. Great story for sure and a wake up call to hopefully a few kind hearted people to start planning for next years dinner.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

I wonder why some of the local churches didn't volunteer there space and kitchen? Ypilanti has a $38,000,000 operating budget. I dont see why they wouldn't wave $300. It s like taking a .0078 of one penny out of my pocket on pay day. $300 is .0000078 of 1% of their budget.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Just because a unit of government has a large total dollar amount, that doesn't mean they are flush......... $300 here, $300 there and pretty soon you're in a big deficit (Like Fed Gov't????). Harry i suggeest you run for City Council if you feel strongly enough about having the taxpayers fund charities.........

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Harry, Organizer Tyrone Bridges said he did look at other places, but the problem was these locations did not have commercial kitchens, which is needed to cook the large volume of food they'll have. I think moving forward though, if he can continue to do the dinner, he'll probably continue to look at all of the possible options in terms of location.