‘Mr. Goodfellow’ hard at work ahead of Christmas
WARREN — A few bucks would help, or maybe a little bit of your time.
Darrell Nieporte, secretary/treasurer of the Warren Sterling Heights Goodfellows Inc., is not asking for much, considering all the need in the world, especially this time of year.
“It’s just been horrible,” Nieporte said last week, busy as usual as the organization gears up for the holiday rush, struggling to meet the needs of those who could use it the most. “I’ve got to get the word out on what we do and how much we need funds.”
In 2011, the Goodfellows helped more than 2,100 families in Warren, Center Line and Sterling Heights.
It’s not just a Christmastime project. Their work goes on throughout the year. They provide monthly food and dry goods for needy families, as well as clothing, small furniture, and appliances; a back-to-school shopping spree for children in need; a maintenance program to help senior citizens; and assistance each month for one cancer patient.
Logistically speaking, that’s a tall order. And all of it depends on donations, already down for a fourth straight year.
Nieporte said he’d received just 70 checks through Nov. 27, and their amounts were down about 8 percent. He said he received a total of 249 checks last year, including contributions from local businesses.
Beyond cash, he said the Goodfellows also need donations of food and toys, particularly for those who seek help at the last minute.
He also needs volunteers willing to stand out in the cold to sell newspapers during their annual holiday paper sale, set to begin Dec. 7 and run through Dec. 22.
Drivers with trucks able to deliver goods are also sorely needed.
Despite the often-frantic work of trying to rustle up volunteers, screen families seeking assistance, solicit donations, schedule pickups of donated items, and handle day-to-day matters of the Goodfellows, Nieporte remained optimistic last week.
At 74, he’s been at this for 52 years. He’s known around town as “Mr. Goodfellow” for his work throughout the year, and his dedication to fulfilling the Goodfellows’ mission of “A Christmas for Every Kiddie.”
The Warren City Council and the Michigan Legislature honored Nieporte with resolutions in September.
He’s already beat cancer and is currently battling pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs’ tissue that keeps him on oxygen and in need of a scooter to help him get around.
But Nieporte is still doing work for the Goodfellows. He said he could do 90 percent of it from home, but that he’d be at the warehouse on the western edge of the parking lot at the Warren Community Center on Dec. 18, when holiday goods are given to those in need.
“When the man upstairs calls me, I’m going,” Nieporte said last week. “Until then, I’m working every living moment to help people. That’s what my mother called me to do.”
Connie Walton, of Casco, 38, said she’s worked alongside Nieporte for close to 20 years, after she went to the Goodfellows seeking help for her family.
“He’s an angel on Earth,” she said. “Goodfellows is not a one-day thing. It’s an everyday, all year (thing).”
Anyone wishing to volunteer with the Goodfellows for their newspaper sale or to help with the delivery and distribution of goods should call (586) 651-5716.
Monetary donations can be made by check to Warren Sterling Heights Goodfellows Inc. and mailed to P.O. Box 555, Warren, MI 48090.
Donations of food, clothing and toys can be left at the Goodfellows warehouse on the west side of the parking lot at the Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden.
Families in need of help through the Warren Sterling Heights Goodfellows Inc. must call (586) 979-4313.