The Chatham Goodfellows kicked off their campaign season Thursday by holding their 64th annual general meeting and recognizing volunteers, supporters and organizations that have gone above and beyond for the group.
Chatham Goodfellows director Tim Mifflin said more than 180 people turned out for the evening, forcing organizers to set up extra tables.
Those on hand got to see Mark Lacina and Ann Preston be named Mr. and Mrs. Goodfellow, Fred Osmon receive a lifetime achievement award, and the folks at Giant Tiger earn recognition for their support by being given the president’s award.
Mifflin said Mark Lush, owner of Giant Tiger in Chatham, and his staff have been great participants in helping ensure children have decent footwear during the winter.
Mifflin said in 1990, Phil Williston started the boot program for Goodfellows where each child would receive a voucher for a new pair of boots.
The program ran successfully from 1990 to 2013, when the supplier at the time left town.
“While suppliers changed over the years, we have vendor commitment for 23 years,” Mifflin said.
But after three years without a corporate supporter for the boot program, the Goodfellows teamed up with Giant Tiger last year and conducted a soft re-launch of the program.
The re-launch saw about $10,000 spent to help close to 600 kids get winter boots.
Mifflin said each boot voucher, supplied to families through Goodfellows, was for $25. But that dollar value held little meaning to the people at Giant Tiger.
“It didn’t matter the price of boots. If you bought a pair of boots for $35, as far as Mark and his team were concerned, those boots were only $25,” he said. The store covered the difference.
“Mark and his team are good folks,” Mifflin added. “They are a wonderful community-minded organization.”
Mifflin said Lush and Giant Tiger have supported Goodfellows in other ways as well. Sometimes toy shortages have occurred, and for more than a decade, Giant Tiger has provided toys to fill any gaps.
Furthermore, staff and management are avid fundraisers for Goodfellows, Mifflin added, and over the past two years, they’ve collected close to $12,000.
The boots program will receive a boost this year, as the 100-Plus Women Who Care group donated $12,000 towards the boot program.
Osmon, meanwhile, has been with the Goodfellows for 60 years, Mifflin said, including serving as president, and is a former Mr. Goodfellow.
“He’s a natural for the lifetime achievement award. Fred has done virtually everything with Goodfellows over the years,” he said. “Then he started writing these cookbooks, and all the money raised is given to various charity groups in Chatham-Kent. It’s a wonderful thing. Plus, he’s still on our board mentoring new people.”
Mifflin said Lacina and Preston are also mentors, and help bring people at Union Gas into the Goodfellows fold.
They are also keystones in the foundation of the Goodfellows organization.
“Ann Preston, she and Mark have been involved with Goodfellows for over 40 years. They are never in the limelight. They’re the ones you rely on to get things done,” Mifflin said.
He added the pair was shocked to be named Mr. and Mrs. Goodfellow.
“They are so humble. We appreciate and we need folks like that. They’re pragmatic; they get things done,” Mifflin said.
Certificate awards went to Melanie Huff of Hub Creative Group for advertising support; Mini Haest for knitting; Patricia Weaver Blonde of Imagination INK, Dianne Watson, Jason King, Marilee King, Sawyer King, Mackenzie King, and Kennedy King for toys; Andrea Taylor, Joe Nagle and Michael Gavin for street sales; Dan and Lisa Peseski and family for Porchlight; and Zachary and Chloe Shaw for food packing and delivery.
Mifflin said all the help is appreciated.
“We have a great group of volunteers who come together every year to make sure no child goes without a Christmas,” he said. “We work with the Salvation Army so we don’t cross anybody’s path and make sure everyone gets something for Christmas.”
The Goodfellows office at the Spirit and Life Center on Wellington Street is now open, from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The phone number is 519-354-1146.
Last day to provide names for the Goodfellows for potential support is Nov. 30.
Porchlight, where volunteers go door-to-door seeking monetary donations, is Dec. 3.
Toy packing takes place Dec. 10-13 at 463 St. Clair in the former Fabricland.
Toy delivery takes place Dec. 17 after 5:30 p.m.
Street Sales are being conducted on Dec. 14 and 15.
Food packing takes place at the Spirit and Life Centre Dec. 18. Delivery takes place that same day.