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'Tis the Season to Give: Oakland County Charities Benefit From Casual Day Fund

The gift giving came a little early for a handful of Oakland County charities this year. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson played Santa and passed out checks totaling $26,000 to seventeen local charities.

Oakland County government employees who contributed to the weekly Casual Day Fund throughout the year made early presents possible.
 
"Oakland County employees are among the most generous I have encountered in my career," said Patterson. "Casual Day is one of many ways our employees give back throughout the year."

The employees are proud to support the fund. "It motivates me to give support charities that I might not otherwise," commented Vicki Frame, Economic Development & Community Affairs employee. "I like the fact that the casual day funds benefit charities rather than a coffee or bagel fund for employees."

 Even college interns donate to the fund. "Being a college student and not having a ton of money, participating in Oakland County's Employee Casual Day is a great way for me to do my part to help out various charities without breaking the bank," said Lacy Skidmore, graphic design intern for Oakland County Media & Communications.

Below is a run down of each charity* that took home an early Christmas gift:

 American Diabetes Association Bingham Farms: Their mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. They lead the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fight for those affected by diabetes. They fund research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes, they deliver services to hundreds of communities, they provide objective and credible information, and they give voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes.

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, Birmingham: The Birmingham-Bloomfield Arts Center has been celebrating art every day since 1957. That's more than fifty years of arts! The mission of the BBAC is to connect people of all ages & abilities with visual arts education, exhibitions & other creative experiences through high-quality classes, workshops, camps, and other educational offerings.

Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham: Twelve times the BBSO has won the Detroit Motor City Music Award for Most Outstanding Community Orchestra. Their mission is to enrich the Birmingham-Bloomfield area and the surrounding community with high quality symphonic music; to appeal to a broad-based audience through diverse programming and creative marketing; to provide a community orchestra to serve as a performance outlet for talented musicians from Southeastern Michigan; and actively encourage and directly support music opportunities, experiences and education to students in all schools throughout the State of Michigan.

Child Abuse and Neglect Council (CARE House), Pontiac: The CARE House is a leader in protecting the children of the community. The council was formed out of collaboration in 1977 when Oakland County law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor's office, the Junior League of Birmingham, Children's Protective Services, and community stakeholders joined forces. This collaboration and dedication to the kids has continued for more than 30 years.

Community Sharing, Highland: Their mission is to provide food, clothing, educational and emergency financial assistance to those in need while respecting their dignity and fostering their independence. Through the generous donations of the local community, Community Sharing provides food, clothing, emergency shut-off services, referrals and advocacy for residents of the Milford, Highland and the Stratford Villa and Commerce Meadows mobile home parks in Wixom.
 
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Metropolitan Detroit-NW Ohio Chapter, Troy: The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a nonprofit donor-supported organization, is to assure the development of the means to cure and control cystic fibrosis and to improve the quality of life for those with the disease. The Foundation is the leading organization in the United States devoted to cystic fibrosis.

Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, Commerce: The Donate Life Coalition of Michigan was formed in 1993 to promote organ and tissue donation. Their goal is to encourage Michigan residents to accept organ and tissue donation as a fundamental human responsibility. They seek to accomplish this primarily through public education, legislative and professional education endeavors.

Give-A-Christmas Year Round, Royal Oak: This Royal Oak-based non-profit, Give-a-Christmas Year Round, looks to raise funds all year to distribute to needy families as the holiday season comes around.

Huron Valley Council for the Arts, Highland: The Huron Valley Council of the Arts was founded in 1999 as an organization dedicated to the belief that community life is enriched and enhanced by the arts in many forms. They are committed to working with established visual and performing arts programs and groups that exist in and around Western Oakland County.

PKD Foundation Detroit Chapter, Troy: The PKD Foundation is the only organization, worldwide, dedicated to fighting polycystic kidney disease (PKD). The mission of the PKD Foundation is to: "Promote programs of research, advocacy, education, support and awareness in order to discover treatments and a cure for Polycystic Kidney Disease and improve the lives of all it affects."

Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Rochester: Since 1982, PCCA has been dedicated to promoting the arts and artistic excellence through a full range of cultural programs including exhibitions, studio art classes, outreach programs, community involvement projects, and the Art & Apples Festival. Its mission is to enhance life in the region by promoting, encouraging and creating opportunities to participate in and appreciate the arts.

POH Children's Health Services, Pontiac: Opened in 1995 and the only one of its kind in the county, the POH Children's Health Services provides free health care services to more than 2,500 patients each year. Children from birth through 18 years of age receive acute and preventative health care services, including wellness exams, immunizations and specialty care.

Rainbow Connection, Rochester: The Rainbow Connection is a charity that grants wishes to Michigan children who are suffering from life threatening or terminal illness. The Rainbow Connection began as a memorial Golf Outing to raise scholarship funds in the name of Tim and Jennifer Dobson who died in a plane crash, along with their father, Ron, on the way to a wedding in Canada in Ron's private plane. Their mother, who survived but was critically injured in the crash, sits on the board of directors for Rainbow Connection. From the humble beginning of a small golf outing that raised $2,300, the Rainbow Connection now has an annual budget nearing $1 million.

SandCastles Grief Support Program, Detroit: SandCastles Grief Support Program, established in 1997 by Henry Ford Hospice, focuses on the belief that every child and teen deserves the opportunity to grieve in a supportive, nurturing environment. Grieving youth, ages 3 to 18, are offered a special place where they can interact with peers who have experienced similar losses, learn life-long coping skills, and most importantly begin a healthy healing process.

Toys for Tots, Waterford: The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.

William E. Scripps Estate/Guest House, Inc., Lake Orion: William Edmund Scripps was the sole male heir to Detroit News empire builder, and father, James Edmund Scripps. Starting in 1916, William and his wife Nina Downey Scripps began acquiring land for their farm in Orion Township. And in 1927 the construction of their home on the land was completed. It wasn't until 2007 when the house made it to the National Register of Historic Places. The listing, though important, is strictly honorary and doesn't provide funding. That's where the Scripps Estate comes in. Through them and their fundraising, the Scripps' house and grounds stay intact.

Winning Futures
, Warren: Winning Futures, a school-based mentoring program for kids grade 3 to seniors in high school, won the 2007 Innovative Mentoring Program of the Year for the state of Michigan. This award-winning program also founded, and leads, an innovative initiative called The Metro Detroit Mentor Collaboration. Their goal is to strengthen the impact of mentoring.

Oakland County employees raised an additional $7,100 through special Casual Days when a specific recipient is designated. For instance, Oakland County employees wore pink for a day for breast cancer awareness and research. Those funds supported the Passionately Pink for a Cure program during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

"Since Casual Day's inception 18 years ago, Oakland County employees have donated more than a half million dollars, touching the lives of thousands of people," said Patterson.

* The descriptions for the charities are from their websites.
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