Some spuds and apples, citrus fruit and bananas, plus assorted snacks and some enthusiastic volunteers, equals holiday cheer for scores of Detroiters in need. In this season of giving, I always wonder who gains more in the exchange the giver or the receiver? Most times I think it’s the giver.
Every year at this time, Ed Deeb, president of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association (MFBA) and a host of volunteers gather at the edge of Eastern Market, in the community building of Sacred Heart church near I-75 and Mack, to fill nearly 200 baskets with food for families who would otherwise go without.
This year I was not much help as I sat on my knee scooter with my orthopedic boot propped up watching the holiday spirit in action. It was an uplifting scene. “More apples over here, this basket needs bananas, oops, we put double potatoes in this one.”
It’s a diverse group — different ages, ethnicities and professions all motivated to help those less fortunate. In the center of it all stands Ed in his tweed blazer good-naturedly reminding the volunteers what’s to come and what order to pack the produce and snacks so as not to smash or damage the contents.
Father Tom, pastor of Sacred Heart, makes his usual appearance and is spontaneously serenaded with a rousing, if not exactly musical, rendition of “Jingle Bells.” This is a city full of contrasts but it is also a city with a heart and soul fueled by a strong sense of community and compassion. Ed is known throughout metro Detroit for his generosity and commitment to making this a better place to live. The Arab American News once said “Ed Deeb goes to where there’s trouble, and fixes things. For decades Deeb has brought together groups in conflict, whether unions and businesses, businesses and government entities, business-owners and residents, or clashing ethnic communities.”
As Ed has described himself, “I’m a peacemaker. I make peace.” And at this time of year, that peace comes in the form of a bushel basket filled with good food by volunteers brimming with good cheer.