Goodfellows give back to needy at Christmas

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C&G Newspapers

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — We’ve all heard the story about how the Grinch stole Christmas, but what is often forgotten is that many children experience the holiday the same way every year. That’s why the Clinton Township Goodfellows have been on the holiday prowl for more than 50 years, giving back to Clinton Township families and children.

The Goodfellows prepares itself every year for the varied amounts of children who receive gifts through donations, including a popular spaghetti dinner fundraiser that is held annually.

Goodfellows Vice President Bob Turner said this year’s dinner went flawlessly. Instead of going from its old 11 a.m.-8 p.m. timeframe, the new 3-8 p.m. format was equally as successful in terms of money raised.

With each passing decade, the organization has a good handle on what to expect.

“We’re an organization that supplies the family with toys,” Turner said. “I don’t want to say we supply the kids with toys; we supply the families with toys so the parents can wrap the gifts for the children, almost like a behind-the-scenes supplier.

“We box the toys up so that the parents can see them and wrap them and make it a family event.”

The Goodfellows supply gifts to a large age group, ranging from infants to 13-year-olds. Last year, about 650 children from 300 different families were supplied gifts, which has become the norm. With the final two signup dates taking place after press time, the organization expects the final tally to be similar to past years.

“Everything has gone as planned,” said first-year President Paul Silvestri. “Volunteers have done it for many years and I kind of sit back and think, ‘If we didn’t have volunteers, we wouldn’t exist.’ I have a group of people who hit every shop and they spend. That’s all I ask of them, to shop, and they do a hell of a job.”

The Goodfellows used to work in conjunction with Clinton Township’s Public Works Department, though budget cuts and other factors cut into that volunteering option.

Now, volunteers with the Goodfellows are a large part of why the “No Child Without a Christmas” endeavor is successful every year, as they go from store to store and buy the items that will go to each family’s children.

“We tend to kick off the year in July with startup meetings and everyone comes in two feet ready to go,” Silvestri said. “It’s a well-oiled machine.”

Along with money that is donated, fundraisers also take place at local establishments such as Green Lantern and Pub 1281.

For those like Turner who have spent many years fighting the good fight, he knows the struggle for many families never ends. After realizing people needed help and some extra joy during the holidays, he — like a multitude of volunteers — worked behind the scenes as a volunteer.

Almost 20 years later, the need is still there.

“We’re getting near Christmas, and it’s about Christmas for the children, so our hearts are a little bit more open this time of year,” he said.

The scheduled pickup date for families to get their gifts is Dec. 13 at Parkway Plaza, near the intersection of Groesbeck Highway and Metropolitan Parkway. Those with questions can contact the Goodfellows at (586) 764-7618 or clintontwpgoodfellows@live.com.