Season of Giving: Highlighting metro Detroiters giving back to their community this holiday

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Posted at 6:56 AM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 07:14:13-05

(WXYZ) — It's the season of giving, and 7 Action News is highlighting some metro Detroiters going above and beyond to give back to their community this holiday.

While it's been a tough year for many, there are those finding ways to give of themselves. Reporter Darren Cunningham reached out to these individuals who were not seeking attention or recognition but agreed to share their good deeds with the hope it may inspire others.

"If you're outside and you're in need at that moment, we're going to pass them out to you," said Eradajere Oleita.

"I just hope people will take this and help me make it even bigger next year," said Nicole Jones.

"The end of the year is here and so my goal is to just make sure that everybody around me just has a great first of the year," said Jennifer Gross.

They are three metro Detroiters taking up three different causes and giving back to their respective community and helping people in need.

For Jennifer Gross, she says the motivation comes from being able to relate to what it's like to struggle.

"Before I was in real estate, I was in the service industry," she said. "My heart started to break a little bit about what a struggle I went through back then. Because I'm not afraid that there were few times where I had to either pay my light bill or feed my children and my lights got cut off."

The Westland resident says she put the call out on Facebook, asking who may be in need. As a result, she says she's helping three families – two families of eight and one family of five.

With help from friends, she gathered, bagged and delivered food, essential items, some toys and Amazon gift cards.

"Just to give them one less thing that they have to worry about," Jennifer said. "Sometimes everybody struggles about presents, but they never really think about full bellies."

While most people have gifts under the tree, chip bags are sprawled under Eradajere Oleita's tree.

She's asking for 10,000 bags. Why?

"Over the last five years, I've been working around sustainability and getting more people to talk about what sustainability means," said Eradajere.

She says the inspiration for the Chip Bag Project came from a news clip she saw online. Now she's getting locals to talk about trash, what products are made of and how to address the problem of homelessness in Detroit.

Bringing it all together, she says she'll be creating 60 sleeping bags for the homeless by using these foil-lined chip bags as insulation and passing out PPE.

"I know that conversations are being started and all change starts from a conversation," said Eradajere.

"I've got my children, and I've got some of their friends that are helping out," said Nicole Jones.

It's a teachable moment for young people. Nicole Jones of Pontiac says the idea to compile 100 necessity bags for the homeless and a hundred bags of food actually came from her now 13-year-old daughter Desiree.

"And we go deliver as many homeless necessity bags that we can find – people out in the streets and hopefully put a smile on their face. We named it Smiles for the Homeless. So it's pretty exciting. It's been a very humbling experience. I'll tell you that for sure," said Nicole.

The Chip Bag Project is also accepting old coats to be used as insulation as well. Click here to learn more about how you can donate.