Bar members waging battle for U.S. troops

By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

There is a bit of a rivalry in the ranks of the Oakland County Bar Association. But it's one that Lisa Stadig Elliot, executive director of the OCBA, can live with at any time of the year.

It pits members of the Veterans Committee chaired by Don Orlandoni against those entrusted with the affairs of the Family Law Committee headed by Steven Reinheimer.

Whichever committee prevails in this three-month battle, the real winner will be Operation Afghan-Iraq PAC, an organization dedicated to serving the needs of U.S. troops stationed in the war zones overseas. The next opportunity to help out will be this Wednesday, Feb. 16, at the Oakland County Courthouse from 8 to 11 a.m., when donations of cash and/or goods will be accepted at the north and south entrances of the Circuit Court complex.

Fittingly enough, the competition between the two committees was kicked off on December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, which coincided with the annual OCBA Holiday Gala at Birmingham Country Club. That evening, members of the Veterans Committee gratefully accepted donations, while also raising awareness of the ongoing need to support the troops. The Vets Committee then took up a challenge from the Family Law Committee "to out-contribute us in the push toward the Operation Afghan-Iraq PAC shipment in March 2011," according to Orlandoni.

The OCBA's involvement in the program began last year at the urging of Mike Schloff, past president of the Oakland Bar Association and a Vietnam veteran.

"As you may recall, last winter's drive by the OCBA to send goods to our troops overseas was a huge success made possible by the all-in support and generosity of your committee members," Orlandoni wrote in a letter to the various Oakland Bar committees.

"The Veterans Committee deeply appreciates their good work and notes that, not long after the shipment last March, we quickly lost count of the e-mails and other correspondences that we received from the grateful troops overseas who received our goods. It was clear that the goods we contributed--as unexciting and mundane as they may seem to us--are true luxury items to our men and women enduring the stress and privations of war far from home, and that our contributions had an obvious and profound impact on their spirits."

To date, the Family Law Committee has raised $2,357 in cash donations and nearly $4,000 in goods, while the Veterans Committee has generated approximately $2,500 in cash contributions and $350 in goods. Combined the committees have raised more than $10,000 in cash and goods, according to OCBA Executive Director Stadig Elliot.

"We're hoping that the collection planned for the courthouse on February 16 will really boost that total," said Stadig Elliot, who paid special tribute to Anne Cole Pierce from the Family Law Committee and Mike Schloff from the Veterans Committee for their efforts on behalf of the project.

Some of the "needed materials" that can be dropped off at the courthouse Wednesday morning include: books, magazines, flashlights, batteries, writing materials, prepaid telephone cards, DVD movies, individual drink packets, food and snacks, and various toiletry items. Checks or cash earmarked for Operation Aghan-Iraq PAC also will be gladly accepted on Wednesday.

"All collected goods and additional goods purchased with cash or contributions by check will be delivered for distribution, sorting, packing, and shipping to Iraq and Afghanistan on March 17," Stadig Elliot indicated.

For more information on the project, contact the OCBA office at (248) 334-3400.

Published: Tue, Feb 15, 2011