Despite COVID, Farmington Goodfellows commit to kids, seniors

In what can only be described as an unusual year, Farmington Area Goodfellows are maintaining their commitment to ensuring no child or senior goes without a Christmas.

Since 1939, the nonprofit has collected donations of nonperishable foods, toys, gifts, and cash that all go to Farmington and Farmington Hills residents around the holiday season. After warehouse workers pack items into boxes, a cadre of volunteer “reindeer” typically line up on a December Saturday morning to deliver them across the community.

Farmington Area Goodfellows delivery day
In years past, volunteer drivers lined up at the Goodfellows warehouse to pick up holiday boxes and toys for local families, seniors, and adults with developmental disabilities. 

That likely won’t happen this year, Goodfellows President Richard Lerner said. The group has secured the same warehouse space as last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has altered operations.

There are no warehouse tours this year, and restaurants – John Cowley & Sons, Farmington Deli, Peterlin’s, Bunchy’s Chicken and Pizza, Page’s Food & Spirits, and Grand Tavern – aren’t delivering lunches for volunteers who not only worked but enjoyed time socializing.

“We have half of our volunteers working every other day,” Lerner said, “and our office staff is entirely remote and working on laptops. We used cloud storage for everything before it was fashionable.”

This year, Farmington Hills Police and Fire Departments have volunteered to deliver packages to seniors, who are most vulnerable. The group is still contemplating how to handle other deliveries; they may ask families to pick up items at the warehouse, Lerner said.

“We have concerns about sending the public out to a couple hundred homes,” he added.

Farmington Area Goodfellows
Farmington Area Goodfellows has parked collection trucks outside Farmington and North Farmington high schools. (Richard Lerner)

A much bigger issue has been the loss of critical collection drives and fundraisers typically held during November and early December. Farmington Public Schools will collect food items for another week, but school buildings stand empty. The annual “Battle of the Middles,” which last year raised $12,000 and collected countless food items and new, unwrapped toys, has been cancelled.

To complicate matters, Lerner said, “We are expecting a higher than normal number of applications.” In a typical year, Goodfellows supports more than 400 children, families, developmentally disabled adults, and seniors.

“We know we’re digging into our rainy day funds this year,” he said. “Beyond that, we’ve committed to serve every qualified applicant, no matter what the cost.”

If you can help

  • Mail a check to Farmington Area Goodfellows, 31455 W. 11 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48336
  • Donate online via Paypal: goodfellows.info
  • Drop off donations of nonperishable food (expiration date 2022 or later) and new, unwrapped toys at 37777 Interchange Drive in Farmington Hills from November 30 through December 18. Goodfellows hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and Toys for Tots hours are Monday-Friday, 1-7 p.m.
  • Through November 24, leave canned or boxed food donations in bins at any FPS elementary school, or in trucks parked at Farmington and North Farmington high schools (see district map).
  • Drop off food and toy donations at: Farmington City Hall, 23600 Liberty St.; Farmington Hills City Hall, 31555 W. 11 Mile Rd.; Farmington Community Library, 23500 Liberty St., Farmington; or the Costick Activities Center, 28600 W. 11 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills
  • Buy a small, medium, and large popcorn and/or pop at the Farmington Civic Theater, ask to pay full price, and the theater will donate the difference to the Farmington Area Goodfellows. There’s also a direct donation link at thefct.com.

If you need help

Applications for assistance are due November 20. Find the form here:  goodfellows.info/docs/2020_GF_Application_Package.pdf

 

 

 

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