Goodfellows expect a challenging 2023

Mr. and Mrs. Goodfellows for 2023 are Matt Mitchell and Donna Jean Pardo, centre. Presenting them with their awards are Goodfellow board members Craig Williston, Barb Smith and Kevin Shaw.

As members of the Chatham Goodfellows met to recognize the contributions of various members over the years, they also realized there is a greater need this year.

“There’s a large increase in our clientele this year,” Craig Williston, president of the Goodfellows, told the assembled members Nov. 2 at the Spirit & Life Centre. “The need will be the highest I’ve seen in a long time.”

In the first day and a half Goodfellows phone lines opened for applications, Williston said they heard from nearly 300 people.

“This shows the kind of year we’re going to have.”

The 2022 No Child Without a Christmas campaign saw the organization spend $268,000 to feed those in need and to provide toys to children.

Last year the non-profit distributed food and gift baskets to more than 1,600 area families.

Helping those in need is something the Goodfellows have been doing for the 68 years. They raise funds, collect toy donations, take names of those in need, and provide Christmas dinner packages and toys to hundreds of families in Chatham and Tilbury.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff, who attended the Nov. 2 dinner, called those in attendance “superheroes.

“What you collectively do for Chatham-Kent, you are all superheroes,” he said.”

The Goodfellows handed out several awards at the dinner, recognizing the commitment from volunteers and organizations.

Donna Jean Pardo and Matt Mitchell were named Mrs. And Mr. Goodfellow respectively; Fred and Elsie Strain received the lifetime achievement award, while Swain Bros. earned the president’s award.

Pardo has been involved with the Goodfellows for 45 years, starting in 1973 as a cadet.

Barb Smith, a member of the Goodfellows’ board, said Pardo went on to become an officer with the cadets, but remained connected with the Goodfellows.

“She assisted Goodfellows to ensure there are cadets helping with the toy packaging, food set up and food packing days,” Smith said. “When we needed cadets to assist with delivery, she said, ‘No problem. How many do you need? Who do they meet with?”

Smith added Pardo has spent countless hours assisting with delivery routes and obtaining driver information, while making sure cadets help out wherever needed.

Kevin Shaw, board member of the Goodfellows, said Mitchell began working with the Goodfellows in 1996.

“He has helped organize and recruit volunteers on the military side and helped line up the big trucks every year for food and toy packing,” Shaw said. “He spends endless hours on delivery nights delivering food and toys until it’s done, no matter how late it is.”

The Strains have volunteered with the Goodfellows for more than half a century each.

Swain Bros. as a business has been a long supporter of the Goodfellows, Williston said. The company has supplied four generations of support, and is once again putting together a team to participate in the Goodfellows’ Porchlight campaign.

The annual Porchlight campaign where donors can leave food or toys on their doorstep or make monetary donations in person will take place Dec. 4.

Street sales of the Goodfellows newspaper will be held Dec. 15 and 16.

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