Clinton Goodfellows raise funds for kids’ Christmas toys

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C&G Newspapers

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Goodfellows has been around for more than 50 years, giving back to the community and offering kids presents at Christmas.

And in 2013, not much has changed.

This year’s Goodfellows spaghetti dinner once again took place Oct. 16 at the Italian-American Cultural Center on Romeo Plank in Clinton Township. While the amount of dinners served at this year’s event may not have exceeded those of years past, the amount of money raised through various raffles ensured that impoverished children of all ages will still smile on Christmas morning.

The annual No Child Without a Christmas mission raises money through events like the spaghetti dinner, raising funds that are later responsible for the purchase of toys for kids. And while no actual figures have yet been determined, many children should enjoy a nice Christmas that they maybe might not have had if it wasn’t for the diligence and kindness of the Goodfellows.

“We had a good time,” said Sharon Harrison, president of the Goodfellows. “Nice turnout — haven’t gotten the final figures but it looks pretty good for the kids. We not only serve dinners, but we had a raffle which turned out to be very successful.”

“It was worth all the effort, and it takes a lot of work to put it all together. From what I have heard so far, things went well for us. I can honestly say (attendees) had a good meal for $8; kids five and under ate for free.”

Between 350-400 families got assistance last year from the Christmas campaign, including roughly more than 1,000 kids whose ages vary from infants to teenagers.

As far as this year’s numbers go, Goodfellows Vice President Beverly Puchalski estimated that more than 1,060 people were served that day. Harrison estimates the event drew around 28 fewer dinners than last year.

However, the raffles were a great success. With items such as a Sony 40-inch TV and an iPod Mini being auctioned, along with gift baskets put together, money was generated and put in the toy fund.

“I’ve been doing this for many years,” said Bob Turner, former president of the Goodfellows and the emcee at this year’s event. “(There’s a) great feeling of thankfulness for everything I have, and the volunteers feel the same way. It’s tough because I didn’t come up from a background where I needed anything like that. … You just get a good feeling. When it’s all said and done, you are very thankful.”

The next step is to approve families for the dispersal of toys.

Families sign up their kids (up to the age of 15) in three steps: proving they are Clinton Township residents; providing proof of income, such as a bridge card or pay stub; and showing a birth certificate, or guardianship papers for those who aren’t parents.

“We do a sign up of the families in the township that are in need,” Harrison said. “We use the Clinton Township library for lists of people who need help, and women do shopping for different age groups. In December, we get a bunch of volunteers and pack the toys and send them out.”

Registration takes place six different days throughout November at two Clinton-Macomb Public Library locations. Dates, times and locations can all be found at www.clintontownshipgoodfellows. com.

From then on, it’s about the volunteers picking up the toys and making the Christmas season a little better for children.

“When you deliver the toys, kids’ eyes light up,” Harrison said.