HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – Every Friday, a woman sets up shop in Hamtramck to give boxes of produce and gallons to milk to anyone who needs them.
Like many people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Erica Owens wanted to help. She learned through Food Rescue Detroit that she could pass out boxes of food to people in need.
“So the very first week, it was June 5, I signed up for 25 families because I was terrified that no one would show up,” Owens said. “I’ve never done something like this before, and they showed up.”
Each week, the line of cars has continued to grow, and so has the number of volunteers.
“The real reason was Mohamed,” Owens said. “He came for a box when it was just me and my son, Patrick, doing this, and he said, ‘Do you just do this by yourself?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I never asked anybody. I just jumped in and did it.’ He said, ‘If you save my box, I will come help you.' So since week three, he has come early and stayed late."
“When I got a buck her her, like, ‘You need some help?’ Like, volunteer and stuff like that,” Mohamed Abdulla said. “I just came here.”
Now Owens and Abdulla, who were complete strangers a few months ago, have formed a bond with one thing in common: a desire to help others."
“It’s just like my sister to me,” Abdulla said. “Doesn’t matter how she is. Doesn’t matter what culture she is, but it’s still like a sister to me.”
“What’s amazing is he speaks Arabic, so he is an interpreter, so that changed the dynamic of this line, as well, because I could communicate with everyone,” Owens said. “They could say thank you if they wanted or ask a question or find out my name, all those things. So now it’s really neat, like he’ll interpret for me and we can all talk to each other.”
The line now serves up to 3,500 families each Friday and has even attracted the help of the Hamtramck Fire Department.
“So it’s just kind of magic around here,” Owens said. “Everybody comes in. We all sort of know each other and they tell the story of who they helped or how their brother’s doing better in the hospital or whatever the story is, but it’s really cool.”