Scott Williston may have been the most surprised person among the 150 present when he was named this year’s Mr. Goodfellow last night.
The 53year old joined his father Phil, mother Mary and brother Craig in receiving the honour, recognizing his contributions to the Goodfellows’ “No Child Without a Christmas” campaign beginning when he was a small child.
“I can remember helping pack toys when I was just a kid,” he said. “It was freezing in the barn but everyone was there. That’s just what we did at Christmas.
Goodfellow Tim Mifflin said fellow committee members hid the identity of this year’s winner from Williston, despite the fact Williston is on the selection committee.
It was only when during the introduction it was announced that the parents of this year’s recipient had their first date while helping Goodfellows that he began to realize he had won.
Williston has been a Goodfellows board member for more than a decade and has been president for the past five years.
Mifflin said Goodfellows had an exceptional fundraising season last year, spurred on when the public learned that thieves had stolen a significant portion of items collected for the drive.
Last year, the Goodfellows raised $173,000, leaving a surplus of $35,000 that will be carried over to this year’s campaign.
Williston said the community of Chatham is the real Mr. and Mrs. Goodfellow since without contributions, the group’s effort would be in vain.
More than 1,500 families and individuals were given Christmas baskets and gifts last year.
Attending last night’s 61st annual banquet was Lynn Shomaker, the international president of the LaSertoma service club.
The Ohio resident said, “Sometimes we forget there are parents who cannot afford presents, cannot afford Christmas. You are the answer to their prayers. The gifts you give are more than presents … they are hope, wrapped in love.”
The Chatham and Thamesville LaSertoma groups have donated more than $50,000 since their first $75 donation in 1962.
“They have never missed a year,” Williston said.
Ten groups stepped up with donations at the banquet, totalling approximately $15,000, including $5,300 from two Union Gas groups and $7,000 from the seventh annual Spooktacular.
The presidents’ award went to Boston Pizza management and staff for their campaign to donate tips to the Goodfellows’ campaign.
Certificates of appreciation for helping with toys were given to Howie Morgan, the Lewis family, Matthew and Tiffany Beselaere and Mathew and Bailey Peseski.
Lena Sikkema, Tina De Kievit, Corry Putters and Margaret Van Patter were recognized for their work in making sure their are knitted items in each basket.
Certificates for street sales were presented to Ann Peck, Garry Borrowman, Bob Borrowman, Dan Bunning, Bruce Corcoran and Jim Blake.
Being honoured for their work with the food baskets were Bob and Ricki Higgins, John Smith and Robert Merritt.
This years’ Porchlight Campaign will be held Nov. 30, and street sales will take place Dec. 11 and 12.
The Goodfellows office will open Nov. 9 and the deadline for applications is Dec. 4.
To donate or ask for a basket, call 519-354-1146 or go to chathamgoodfellows.ca.
The photo gallery below is courtesy of UCC students Nick Ludwig and Jordan Wootton.