Letter: We keep doing the ‘most good’


More than 4,000 hungry men, women and children across metro Detroit will receive a meal today that for many will be the only one they will eat. Additionally, 450 people will find escape from the cold and a place to lay their heads tonight. It’s the generosity of this community – through The Salvation Army’s Bed & Bread program – that provides this vital safety net for our neighbors in need.

For three decades, the Bed & Bread program has been providing a lifeline to Detroiters 365 days a year, and it’s been my honor to have partnered with The Salvation Army in this mission from the beginning. From hundreds of meals and shelter nights that first year, the program has grown to provide nearly 1.5 million meals and 164,000 shelter nights annually. While Bed & Bread meals are served at suburban corps community centers, the majority of meals are distributed via Bed & Bread trucks in some of the city’s most depressed areas. These mobile soup kitchens travel more than 130 miles daily to more than 50 neighborhood stops, delivering meals and encouragement in equal servings.

I’ve served Detroiters from the Bed & Bread trucks many times, an experience that is both heartbreaking and humbling. It’s often through an unfortunate twist of fate that so many families, single adults, seniors and disabled residents find themselves dependent on The Salvation Army for each day’s nourishment. Yet in the face of tremendous challenges, the gratitude they express is astonishing and the hope they share is rewarding for those of us privileged to meet every single one of them where they are.

Bed & Bread serves a staggering volume of food yearly — 18,720 gallons of homemade soup, 93,600 loaves of bread topped with 130,000 pounds of deli meat, and 520,000 pieces of fruit and snacks. This is in addition to 182,000 hot dogs that are a popular mid-week treat, along with 300 gallons of hot chocolate every week throughout the winter.

The majority of funding for The Salvation Army Bed & Bread program is generated each year right here in metro Detroit through a one-day broadcast that has evolved since 1988 into the largest single-market, single-day radio fundraiser in the country – generating more than $32 million over time.

On Friday, Purtan’s People and I will once again partner with our colleagues from WJR 760 in hosting the 30th annual Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club Radiothon, live from Emagine Theater in Royal Oak from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Paul W. Smith, Frank Beckmann, Guy Gordon, Mitch Albom and I will tag team behind the microphone for 16 hours — joined mid-day by Jim Vella, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund, the presenting sponsor of the milestone fundraiser.

Please tune in to be informed, to be inspired, even to be entertained — but above all, tune in to give.

The success of the Bed & Bread Radiothon is critical to ensuring The Salvation Army can meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors in the coming year. And we succeed only with your generous support.

And as always, thank you for doing the most good.

DickPurtan, co-chair

Salvation Army Bed & Bread Program