Jeff Polny sells Dearborn Goodfellows newspapers on Outer Drive at Michigan Avenue on Saturday.
By J. PATRICK PEPPER
Contributions for the Goodfellows’ annual newspaper sale are about on par with last year’s figures, local officials said, despite a poor economy.
The Goodfellows is an umbrella organization of local charities and civic groups with the purpose of making sure no child goes without a Christmas.
Dearborn Heights Goodfellows tallied about $37,600 in sales — about $1,000 more than last year — according to Treasurer John Zadikian. As usual, with their high-visibility location at Ford Road and Telegraph, the Police & Reserve Officers gathered the most donations of the 26 organizations that participated, at about $8,375.
Zadikian said it was encouraging to outpace last year’s sales, even as local unemployment rates soar and charitable contributions in general have taken a nosedive.
“Lately with the economy, it has been tough,” Zadikian said. “But I always say if we get one more dollar than the year before, I’m happy, and you just have to admire the many volunteers who came out and sacrificed their time and warmth to make this happen.”
In Dearborn, where less people volunteered, the preliminary total topped $16,000. Dearborn Goodfellows President Jeanette Christe said the sum was about the same as last year. Like Zadikian, Christe was pleased that donations didn’t drop.
“We understand that times are tough, so I’d say it was a good year,” Christe said.
Families who benefit from the Goodfellows’ work are chosen through area schools, where income levels are used to determine eligibility for things like free and reduced lunch, Zadikian said.
“The schools do a great job helping us reach those that need it,” he said, “and since our goal is to serve kids, they always been one of the keys to what we do.”
Dearborn Heights Goodfellows provide qualifying families with food for a Christmas dinner, canned and dry goods, and, of course, toys for children. In Dearborn, where there are less funds and more demand, efforts are focused on providing children between 2-years-old and 11-years-old with toys.
“We don’t provide food because we just don’t have the money,” Christe said. “So what we try to do is make sure that the kids who it will mean the most to are able to open presents on Christmas.”
The Goodfellows now will go about putting together the care packages, but both groups said they could use some help. In Dearborn Heights the packages will be assembled at the Berwyn Senior Center, 1655 Richardson, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Dec. 14 through Dec. 18. Zadikian said that volunteers are needed to help parcel the items and, even more important, to deliver them.
“If people have trucks, minivans, or any sort of large (sport utility vehicle) where they can take several boxes at a time, that would be extremely helpul,” he said.
The Dearborn group will meet at City Hall at 6 p.m. Dec. 23 to do packaging. And while there isn’t anything specific they need help with, Christe said, there always is room for more volunteers.
“Anyone who wants to is welcome, encouraged to come,” she said. “We can find a place for you.”
For more information about volunteering or donations in Dearborn Heights call (313) 791-3600. In Dearborn, call Christe at (313) 584-4000.