With the Christmas season drawing ever nearer, many families throughout Windsor and Essex County will once again be in need of helping hand this holiday season to make things a little brighter.
Since 1910, Windsor Goodfellows has been there.
Beginning today, the familiar newspaper drive is once again in full effect, with the Newsboy Legion out on street corners city-wide. It’s all part of the Goodfellows largest fundraiser of the year and, truly, the lifeblood of the operation.
“The newspaper sales make up almost 40 percent of our annual fundraising. This year, we have a goal of $250,00,” said Bruce Tait, second vice president of the Windsor Goodfellows. “It’s our highest goal yet. Last year, we raised $232,000 and we had never reached that high before.”
The newspapers themselves are donated by the Windsor Star, said Tait, adding that some 500-600 volunteers regularly staff the weekend-long drive. It runs in conjunction with a direct mail campaign to past donors.
“This need this year appears to be a little greater than last, just judging by the number of boxes,” he said. “You can tell that Windsor still isn’t out of its little slump yet.”
Tait, whose family immigrated here from Scotland in 1948, soon found out first-hand about the generosity of the Windsor Goodfellows program. It was an impression that never left.
“The first year we got here, I was two, and my Dad was having trouble finding work right away. Well, weren’t he and my Mom both surprised to see this car pull up in front of our house, with a Goodfellows representative delivering a basket to our family,” recalled Tait. “My father found work with the city after that - but never forgot that generosity. After that point, he made sure to give to the Goodfellows every year.
“It really leaves a mark on a family. So many people who may be down this year and receive a basket, will send us a cheque the next year or every year after that, once they get back up again,” he said.
In recent years, in addition to food in the Christmas baskets, Goodfellows has also taken to including something extra for the children - a comic book, thanks to local shops who collect and donate the books.
Tait said anything the Goodfellows can do to make Christmas a little brighter for all the people of Windsor and Essex County is what they are all about.
“The kids are delighted to see the comic book in there. A lot of them never get to see something like that too often,” he said. “They see it as a bonus. Just like some candy or a toy . . . If we get any of that in donations, we try and include that as well.”
The Windsor Goodfellows accepts donations year round at their offices at 401 Park St. W. For more information, call 519-252-2739.