The boxes of food are packed and waiting, and Santa's helpers are busily filling orders for toys, games and books at the Farmington Area Goodfellows warehouse.
And on Saturday morning, the Goodfellows invite you to help deliver those packages to about 150 families and 50 seniors in need in Farmington and Farmington Hills. Drivers are welcome to stop by the warehouse, located at 37484 Interchange Drive just off Halsted in Farmington Hills, between 9 a.m. and noon.
"I cannot believe (the number of recipients) hasn't gone up," Goodfellows president Dave Kenerson said Wednesday.
Unfortunately, he added, food donations are down about 10 percent and cash donations are expected to come in lower as well. "Toys are still strong," Kenerson added, noting the Goodfellows' partnership with Toys for Tots continues this year. The two organizations share warehouse space, and Toys for Tots helps fill the wish lists of the 350 children on the Goodfellows' roster.
While donations are down a bit, the Goodfellows have expanded their food distribution to Farmington Youth Assistance families and Neighborhood House, the arm of the Goodfellows that helps families all year around.
At least 100 volunteers, including about 50 people who don the Goodfellows' signature red and white sweatshirts, have been working in the warehouse since late November. They're served lunch every day thanks to a group of local businesses:
- Luigi's Trattoria
- Farmington Deli
- Dan's Giant Submarines
- Panera Bread
- Bella Vino Pizzeria
- Papa John's Pizza
- L. George's Coney Island
April Saari and Ellen Steward have been coordinating the toy packing for the past two years. The two met six years ago, when they both showed up to volunteer on the same day.
"I like getting to be an elf," Saari said. "And it gets me out seeing other adults outside of work."
"Getting to see all of the toys is fun," Steward added.
$150,000 in goods and gift certificates
Families receive a box of canned goods and a box of dry goods, in addition to gifts for the children. Larger families receive an extra box of food.
Seniors' boxes are wrapped with bright holiday paper and filled with household items, quilts and knitted items made by local volunteers. Families and seniors also receive gift certificates from Orchard Ten Foods and Kmart. A recent addition to the program has been the distribution of diapers and wipes. Kenerson said Goodfellow volunteer Barbara Dresden has coordinated that effort, with the help of her Girl Scout troop.
In all, Goodfellows distributes about $150,000 worth of holiday cheer to fulfill their motto, "No child or senior without a Christmas".
Kenerson admits there were a few issues with last year's distribution. The donated warehouse space was located on a cul de sac, with very little parking space, so cars backed up onto Grand River. This year, he expects the system to run like clockwork, given the longer street and larger parking lot.
And like last year, he expects the time to fly by.
"It takes about three weeks to put all this together, and in three hours, it's all gone," Kenerson said.
There's no need to sign up to be a Goodfellows driver – just show up at the warehouse, 37484 Interchange Drive, on Saturday morning between 9 a.m. and noon. For more information, visit farmingtonareagoodfellows.org or call 248-473-1360.