The theft of $3,700 in toys and batteries last month was but a speed bump to the Chatham Goodfellows.
Rose Peseski of the Goodfellows said the community support clicked into overdrive after someone broke into a trailer on Grand Avenue East, slipping into a tight crack between the trailer and a loading dock to steal from the charitable organization.
“Everyone’s been amazingly supportive,” she said. “Chatham-Kent always steps up.”
The assistance helped ensure the toy boxes get filled on time. Goodfellows volunteers are spending nights this week packing the boxes at the former Guspro building on Grand Avenue East.
The street sales take place Friday and Saturday around Chatham, followed next week by the packing of food and delivery of everything to an estimated 1,400 families, which is about the same number as last year.
Peseski said while the gift boxes are being packed this week, the Goodfellows are never done collecting toys. In fact, members keep emergency packs just in case, and too often, they are needed.
Tim Mifflin, this year’s Mr. Goodfellow, said something unexpected often occurs.
“Around Christmas, you always have one or two fires,” Mifflin said. “Or I’ve had calls on Christmas day from families with no food and no toys.”
Then there are the houses that get broken into just days before Christmas. Homes get rifled through and all the presents under the tree are taken.
Goodfellow Tim Haskell said it’s good to be prepared.
“I had a box in my van up until Christmas,” he said.
The same goes for food.
“We all keep turkeys in our freezers at home,” Mifflin said.
“We give from our own pantries,” Peseski added.
Why do the volunteers do it? For Peseski, all the work is worth it for two words: thank you.
“People say we’ve touched their hearts and made their Christmases special,” she said.
Haskell said he wakes up every Christmas morning with a smile, knowing he’s worked to help others have a happier Christmas.
Volunteers are still needed for the street sales and food packing. Anyone interested can contact the Goodfellows at 519-354-1146.