It's the busy season for Farmington Area Goodfellows, volunteers who work to make sure no child or senior goes without a Christmas.
But this year, the Goodfellows wouldn't mind being a little bit busier.
While their annual holiday mailing hasn't been out long, secretary Judy Glass said donations are "down from last year. Canned goods are down about 1,500."
When applications closed earlier this month, fewer families had also applied for help, 145 this year compared with 200 last year, and there are about 85 fewer children. The number of seniors is also down slightly, from 55 to 50 this year. The Goodfellows last year raised more than $85,000 in cash donations.
"I think the economy's finally hit," Glass said. "We'll manage. We'll get everything out we can."
There's still time to make donations, she added. Distribution day is Dec. 17, and donations will be accepted through Dec. 16. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at Farmington Hills City Hall, Farmington City Hall or the Farmington Public Library Farmington branch.
Glass said donations should be checked to make sure expiration dates are 2012 or later. Goodfellows can't use anything dated 2011 for the holiday distribution, she said.
Boxes of canned goods are sorted at the warehouse, which is on Sinacola Court in Farmington Hills. Goodfellows president Dave Kenerson said about 75 volunteers will be working during the holiday drive. Right now, the "assembly line" of filling cardboard boxes with food is underway.
"I love that process," Kenerson said, adding the atmosphere is relaxed, although volunteers work hard to get everything packaged in time for delivery. "Everybody wants to enjoy themselves. If you're not having fun, why would you want to come here?"
On Friday, Dr. Thomas Jusino and staff from his orthodontic practice in Farmington Hills helped wrap cardboard boxes that will hold donations delivered to seniors. The practice has been working with the Goodfellows for 22 years, Jusino said, hosting an annual benefit roller skating party at BonaVenture in Farmington Hills. A few years ago, they also started volunteering at the warehouse.
"This has become part of our holiday tradition," Jusino said.
In addition to boxes of non-perishable foods items, families receive gift certificates from Orchard Ten Food Center and Kmart – and, of course, toys and gifts for the children. Those with babies and toddlers also receive packages of disposable diapers, Glass said.
And don't worry about giving the Goodfellows more than they need for their holiday drive. Glass said the organization also supports Neighborhood House, which provides a food shelf and help to families year around, operating out of the Jon Grant Community Center on Grand River. They also give to the Servant Church of St. Alexander food shelf and Community Living Centers, an organization that provides support for people with developmental disabilities.
To volunteer, call 248-473-1360. Checks can be sent to Farmington Area Goodfellows, 31555 West Eleven Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48335. Learn more at farmingtonareagoodfellows.org