Society: Jennifer Granger steps up volunteer work during COVID-19

Chuck Bennett
Special to The Detroit News

When the Ilitch group snagged Chris Granger from the Sacramento Kings to become group president of sports and entertainment at Ilitch Holdings, which includes overseeing the Tigers, the Red Wings, Little Caesar’s Arena, and all Ilitch-related venues, they got a major unexpected bonus: Granger’s glamorous and dynamic wife, Jennifer. Jennifer Granger is a community hero on a constant mission to help the less fortunate. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, her “super girl” volunteer work has multiplied.

“My goal is to help in whatever capacity I can right now on a daily basis - at least doing one thing that will make a difference -- big or small,” she explains. “Whether it be connections to resources, putting the word out on the need, physically helping distribute or collect food and clothing, helping nonprofits creatively think through how to pivot their fundraising events.”

Chris and Jennifer Granger

Jennifer has been a true leader in helping make this crisis a little easier for anyone affected by it. She is working with a number of organizations. Here are a few of them:

Forgotten Harvest has been doing an outstanding job getting food out to the communities that need it the most right now.  “They had trouble in the beginning securing masks for their volunteers and staff,” says Jennifer.  “I was able to help secure masks (along with Colleen Peters) and helped with this issue so the food could be packaged and distributed safely.”

Matrix Human Services: “Before the crisis hit, I was reading to a classroom and visiting Matrix Human Services on a weekly basis.  Most recently, though, I have collected and donated diapers, clothing, and supplies to give to their families.”

“Since we’ve been connected with Jennifer, she has given us a wealth of knowledge and expertise in philanthropy that will certainly better position Matrix to meet our fundraising goals,” says Kerrie Mitchell, Vice President, Marketing & Development. “Her passion to help others is truly remarkable.”

Salvation Army: “I was recently asked to join the National Board of the Salvation Army and accepted. Locally, I connected the Salvation Army with the mayor's office, and the Salvation Army was able to provide food and diapers, distributed through their current programs. We dropped off clothes, toys, and donations to its Harbor Light Center - for moms and kids who are currently living there.” During the past four weeks, Salvation Army issued 20,000 boxes of shelf-stable food to Detroit, Pontiac and Farmington Hills. Jennifer helped facilitate the food on handout days. 

Jennifer Granger gathering food and clothing to donate to Lighthouse

Lighthouse: Typically, Lighthouse serves 10,000 people a year.  Now, because of the COVID 19 pandemic, it serves 5,000 people a week. “I put a call out to my network to deliver food donations to my house,” says Jennifer. “Poor Chris. I have taken over the entire garage with donated items. I am so proud. We’ve been able to drop off so many needed items."

Make-A-Wish Foundation: Like most other nonprofits, Make-A-Wish is seeing a projected loss in its revenue through fundraising events. It now has more than 800 Michigan children waiting in the pipeline because many wishes had to be postponed. “I’m working with Make-A-Wish to assist in moving some of the wishes to virtual - and how we can still fundraise,” Jennifer explains. “I co-chaired a virtual wish-filling event last week that included a pizza making kit and other goodies dropped at your house to join a virtual pizza making party. The ticket price went towards a wish of a child who wants a playscape built in their backyard.” 

Heart 2 Hart: For the last seven years, Heart 2 Hart has handed out food and supplies to the homeless every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “I have been collecting supplies and helping distribute the food,” adds Jennifer. “In addition, Kelle Ilitch has personally donated 5,000 pizzas during the crisis to Heart 2 Hart and Salvation Army that she and I have distributed.

These are only a few of the charities that Jennifer Granger assists. She has dedicated her life to helping others. Outside of COVID-19 assistance, she regularly serves such organizations as Gleaners Community Food Bank, Detroit Music Hall, Humble Designs, Starfish Family Services and Fashion x Philanthropy,  an organization that she founded with Amanda Fisher, that marries the fashion world to the philanthropic sector. “Why not feel awesome about supporting your community and look awesome at the same time,” she asks?

Jennifer sees the current pandemic as a call to duty. “How can we not help each other during these times,” she inquires? “As I always say, ‘Everybody has empathy but not everyone has the courage to show it. If everyone shows it, we can make our community, our country, and our world, a better place.”

Chuck Bennett is the Style Ambassador for Fox 2 News and the creator of