Goodfellows groups work to help with the holidays

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 28, 2013

Despite dwindling volunteers, the Goodfellows groups in Eastpointe and Roseville are doing their parts to help out needy families during the holiday season.

Both groups have “paper sales” Nov. 29-30, where volunteers sell papers with ads and stories about the Goodfellows and use the proceeds to help families and kids during the holidays.

“We create our own paper by myself going out and getting ads,” Roseville Goodfellows President Ed Young said. “The ads that we get for the Goodfellows, that I sell, pay for the paper, so the paper doesn’t cost us anything. So, all the money we collect on the streets can go to the cause.”

The Roseville Goodfellows takes applications from people around the city for assistance. Young said he usually ends up approving any applications that the group receives, as long as the applicant falls into the income range they use. That is based around the free- and reduced-lunch program at the schools, he said.

“I’ve been doing this for 36 years and I very seldom turn someone down,” Young said. “There is always another circumstance. They could be making good money and lost their home or something, so I always have to look at it from all sides, and my goal is to help the kids. Dad may have a good job, but if dad is an alcoholic or a gambler, and mom may not have the money to get Christmas gifts ... just because Mom or Dad have a problem, the kids shouldn’t suffer.”

Bill Savalle, an Eastpointe firefighter and member of the Eastpointe Goodfellows, said that following the paper sales, his group will review applications for help that can be filled out and dropped off at Eastpointe City Hall through approximately Dec. 5. He will then call the applicants and let them know whether or not they will be receiving gifts this year through the Goodfellows.

“Last year, I think we did 130 families and, like, 300 kids,” Savalle said. “I don’t know where we’re at now, but it looks like we’ll probably be close to that this year, too.”

Young said the Roseville Goodfellows raised about $11,700 last year from the paper sale, while Savalle said the Eastpointe Goodfellows brought in around $8,000. Savalle said the money is tight for the number of people they try to help out, adding that in Eastpointe they frequently give out gift cards for families to use as they see fit.

“We used to do toys and deliveries, but now we do strictly gift cards because we don’t have the personnel to do it as big as we used to,” Savalle said.

For the actual paper sale, Savalle said he usually has about eight or nine people each day, depending on who is available and volunteering. He said they usually consist of off-duty firefighters and volunteers from the police reserves.

In Roseville, Young said last year they had 19 volunteers, though prior to the 2013 sale he said he was hoping that number would improve this year due to a renewed effort by city officials to get more people to participate.

“I borrowed (road cones) from the city of Roseville,” Young said. “I get cones to put in front of people, and borrowed enough for 50 people. So I’m hoping for more.”

The Roseville Goodfellows applications can be done by phone between Dec. 4 and Dec. 17, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  The phone number to call is (586) 774-7329. Anyone interested in volunteering in Roseville can call Young at (586) 344-2521.