It begins like clockwork every Black Friday: the ridiculously early doorbuster sales and the stampedes of fervent shoppers they attract is a stark reminder of how commercialized the holidays have become. Unfortunately, while some consumers agonize over being first in line for that must-have gift, others struggle to meet even the most basic needs for themselves and their families.
But for the Dabiero family of Lasting Impressions (asi/249926) in Westland, MI, giving back to the needy is inextricably linked to the holiday season. Beginning in 1986, owner Mark Dabiero and his wife Barbara shopped and donated food and gifts to one or two families in the weeks leading up to Christmas, when financial circumstances permitted. As they welcomed four children of their own, they established a Christmas tradition: The kids exchanged gifts, while Mom and Dad continued to save the money that would have been spent on each other to give to families in need.
Then, in 2006, the Dabieros rethought their Christmas morning. “We decided that, rather than exchanging gifts with one another, we would adopt a family in Melvindale, MI, where my dad grew up,” says Carla Dabiero, the fourth and youngest Dabiero sibling. “For a few years, it was just us six. We would shop and deliver the gifts to one or two families, and then go out to eat afterwards at my parents’ ‘date night’ restaurant. It was a great tradition for a few years.”
As word spread about the Dabieros’ unconventional celebration of the season, friends and family showed increased interest in becoming involved. “They’d tell us they wanted to donate money, or that they wanted to take the time to shop for a family,” says Dabiero. “So we were able to help more and more families each year.”
In 2012, the Dabieros took their efforts one step further and applied for 501c3 status, successfully establishing Dabiero Charities. Managed by Barbara Dabiero, it has a voluntary board of directors and offers no paid positions. “All operating expenses are covered by individual and corporate contributions,” says Carla Dabiero, now committee chair. “We want to ensure that all the money and items go directly to those in need.”
While Dabiero Charities is involved in several projects throughout the year, the organization is best known for its efforts with Adopt-A-Family. The team pairs needy families with donors and shoppers by the end of October, and has all gifts and groceries delivered by the week before Christmas. “These families receive a Christmas that they otherwise would not have had,” says Dabiero. “Only about five years ago, we started with just a few families. Three years ago, we adopted 67 families, including 200 children, and last year, we helped more than 260 children.”
Over the past few years, the organization has branched out from the Melvindale area and started working with churches in other towns to find those who need help. Now, the team puts together care packages of hygiene items for the Shoebox Project, and collects coats, hats and gloves for the local Coat Drive for the Homeless. “We have over 18,000 homeless people living in Detroit, and that’s said to be a conservative number,” says Dabiero. “As the winter months grow colder, we like to do our part. From the donations to the shopping and delivering, it’s truly an amazing, and very emotional, experience.”
For more information, visit www.liteam.com/dabierocharities.