I had the pleasure Friday morning to take part in my first ever Goodfellows street sales event, where the local Goodfellows campaign took its efforts for public support to local stores.
Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy had the unfortunate task of working with me outside Shoppers Drug Mart on Grand Ave. W. in Chatham. We grabbed our papers from the Goodfellows camper set up in the Thames-Lea Plaza and headed east at 9:30 a.m.
Sorry, Mike, but I kicked your fundraising ass. It started with our first “customer.” A gentlemen saw us arrive, and as we were still adjusting our aprons and newspaper pouches, he dropped a $20 bill on us — actually more correctly on me.
Hah! Take that, councillor!
We knew we had a great gig for the morning — sunshine warmed us in front of a busy south-facing establishment. Plus, we were in Chatham-Kent, which in my experience is home to some of the most giving people in Ontario. And we represented a charitable organization whose slogan is “No child without a Christmas.”
Support poured in from folks either going into or coming out of Shoppers. It was awesome.
The second $20 we received went into Bondy’s hands, as the supportive citizen, although leaning towards me, was very much indifferent as to who put the cash in the charitable stash. I let Mike lean forward to take the generous donation.
I knew I’d get my chance to smoke him, although his quick second $20 did throw me off.
But I had several things going my way. First, I am bigger, and thus more identifiable. And not just taller. Heck, I had to string two Goodfellows aprons together to get them around me. I joked with the organizers that this would allow me to store away more donations. Little did I know how true that would be.
But I was also the guy who wasn’t a councillor; the guy who didn’t have the power to potentially raise a person’s taxes. I think people, even if they didn’t recognize Mike, could actually feel the difference as they approached. I was Mr. Nice Guy; he was Mr. Culverts and Bridges.
Oh, sure, people may have walked up to Mike with a warm smile and discussed the previous night’s school Christmas play, but they knew. At least that’s what I believe.
And then I was treating this as a sport; a competition. We’d talk to one person, and I’d step in front at the closing moment to claim the coin.
Then again, Mike did get a phone call or two that called him away for a few minutes at a time where I took full advantage as being the lone representative.
Furthermore, I was on the left as people were coming out. It had to stand for something. Bondy was right beside me, sporting a whiter smile, but the majority seemed to come my way to hand us a donation.
Oh, yeah, Bondy, I kicked butt.
But he did remain on station for at least an hour and a half longer than me, so perhaps he made up the difference (if there really was any), or even passed me.
All kidding aside, it was a great experience. We actually had a couple pass by us, as we were talking to someone else, get in their car, roll down their window and ask if we were collecting for a charity. We said we were, and they chastised us for not saying anything!
That was hilarious. And it perfectly illustrated the giving nature of our great community: people get irked at the thought of missing an opportunity to help others.
We encountered several people who had already given through the Goodfellows’ Porchlight program or had actually handed out money earlier that morning at one of the other places Goodfellows had people handing out papers. But they gave again — “Because you guys do such great work.”
That’s correct. Goodfellows distributes toys to families in need, and does the same for all the fixings for a Christmas dinner.
Yep, Michael and I had an easy job Friday. And a special one. I want to do it again next year, for sure. I’d even share space with a certain councillor. But I’ll need your cell phone number just in case you start kicking my butt in terms of donations, so I can have someone call you as a distraction.
Great work, Bruce! An awesome charity that deserves more publicity for all the good work they do.
A very easy column to write. I did have a great time. The icing on the cake was when a woman came up to us and gave us the name and address of a family in need. I dropped that off at the trailer and they said they’d make sure they were taken care of. That was cool.