Kalamazoo family gives as way of grieving

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo family turned their grief into giving by gathering nearly 2,050 warm hats, scarves and coats for the less fortunate Sunday.

In the parking lot behind Arcadia Creek in Kalamazoo, Marianne Caron says she helped her brother complete his lifelong wish — giving back to those in need.

The family says this kind gesture was their own way of grieving.

“My brother would give anything to anybody. He helped people all the time,” Caron said.

Her brother, Ron Vandermolen, was once homeless himself. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.

“Only lived three weeks. He was gone,” Caron said. “61 years old, and the last thing he said is, to me, ‘I’m sorry. Don’t be mad at me, please help those that don’t have nothing.’”

The family passed out hats that were knit by hand and fresh bread that was made from home.

“I’m telling you, these people are doing the right thing and this is what we need in our little town called Kalamazoo,” Todd James Blalock, a clothing donation recipient, said. “We need help. Right now.”

Making sure nothing was left behind, Caron gave everything and anything that she had left to the community.

“We’ve donated all of his clothes he had left. Everything. We came down here this morning with a trailer full,” she said. “When he had nothing he was still giving,” she said.  

His death inspired others to do the same.

“It’s been hard, but it’s a blessing and it gives me relief,” Caron said. “My brother’s here. I’m doing his last wishes.”

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