Lockup your pills and your pot

NOCC members Sam Anker, left and Tonya Hamilton with lockboxes they plan to handout with the Oxford Fire Department on Jan. 28. Photo by D. Rush

Coalition handing out free lock boxes on Jan. 28

By Don Rush

Let’s be “On the Safe Side.” On Jan. 28, the North Oakland Community Coalition (NOCC) will team up with the Oxford Fire Department to hand out free marijuana and prescription drug lock boxes to the community in a drive-through fashion. The event, called “On The Safe Side,” will be from 10 a.m. to noon at Station No. 1, 96 N. Washington Street.

We know now that with legalized recreational marijuana there is more home access and possession in area homes,” explained NOCC Executive Director Tonya Hamilton. “Our coalition wants to keep youth safe from substances that can harm them or have a negative effect on their future. Our goal is to reduce youth access by helping parents or adults in their homes, store their product.”

The lock boxes come with a lock and instructions on how to change the lock’s combination.

According to NOCC Communications Coordinator Sam Anker this is the first time the group has had such an event in Oxford, but they have done it twice before in Lake Orion. “Last summer we were at the Orion Township Hall and we did it again with the Lake Orion Police Department. We had great turnouts. We were very pleased to see residents of all ages – from 18 on up – show up.”

The group handed out about 120 lock boxes Hamilton said, adding they are bringing 200 lock boxes to the Oxford event.

If we can give away all 200 boxes,” Hamilton said. “Knowing there are 200 more homes safely stored, we would be so happy.”

Each box has a $30 value, they said. Last October NOCC received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to purchase the lockboxes. SAMHSA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NOCC has been around since 2007 and serves both the Oxford and Orion communities. According to Hamilton, “Our work centers around developing and implementing strategies to support mental wellness and prevent substance misuse among youth and families in our community. We work closely with our schools to provide prevention activities for students, but we also work with community groups and sector leaders to make sure we are all working together to not only reduce risk factors that exist in Oxford and Lake Orion, but also to increase the protective factors that support healthy children.”

They have a board of directors of eight who meet bi-monthly to plan programs, camps and training events.

We are expanding and strengthening our programs with Oxford schools and the fire department,” she said. “We always encourage our friends to check out our website for our events.”

According to their website, NOCCMI.org, “ . . . Michigan and other states have legalized marijuana, use among youth has increased, creating a great risk to developing brains. It is our goal to make sure everyone in our community has the information needed to make safer decisions regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.”

They offer training for mental wellbeing, like their QPR training session. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — “the three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. People trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.”

Anker said the training sessions are about an hour and half and the next one is on Jan. 31, at the Orion Township Library, 825 Josyln Rd., from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Also if groups like a church group, or business wants, we will bring the training to them,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said they are also forming a parent group called In The LOOP. “LOOP stands for Lake Orion, Oxford Parents. Parents can connect with us to learn about our trainings, attend presentations geared towards parents raising students, K-12, in our districts, to stay on top of trends and things they should watch for.”

Some of the training and events they have include:

Mental Health First Aid, which teaches how to “identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among adults. You’ll build skills and confidence you need to reach out and provide initial support to those who are struggling. You’ll also learn how to help connect them to appropriate support.”

Level Up Camp is a free four-day camp aimed at rising 6th graders. “Children will play games, create art, and participate in group activities all while becoming better prepared for their middle and high school years. Topics covered include self-esteem, goal setting, communication skills, dealing with stress, drug and alcohol refusal skills.”

Take Back Day is a national effort by the Drug Enforcement Agency to encourage all Americans to safely and properly dispose of all unused and expired medication.

The group posts their events on Facebook and Instagram.

Hamilton said they are always looking for volunteers;, interested folks can send an email to NOCC@NOCCMI.org


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