Macomb Goodfellows at risk of extinction

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published December 5, 2012

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — When Macomb residents started a chapter of the Goodfellows 60 years ago, their goal was to provide every child with a gift for Christmas.

For one day every December, volunteers would brave the cold weather, stand on a street corner and sell satirical newspapers for the chapter’s only annual fundraiser.

Joe Witulski, the chapter’s secretary, remembers standing in the middle of Hall Road, waving down cars and selling papers. “I’d stand on Hall Road and Romeo Plank out in the middle of the intersection and wouldn’t worry about it too much,” Witulski said recently.

But that tradition is dying, as the ranks of Macomb Goodfellows volunteers withers.

“The last maybe three, four years, we’ve been getting less and less participation to help us sell them,” he said. “And therefore, we’re not making enough money to go ahead.”

This December will be the first since the 1950s that the organization will not be fundraising, and it may be the last year it even exists.

“We don’t have anybody to help us,” said Witulski. On one end of the problem, the officers are now too old to man the street corners. Witulski is 74 and President Gary Schneider is in his 60s, Witulski said. On the other end, there are no young people stepping to volunteer and take their place. Therefore, the organization is not able to sell enough newspapers to cover what it paid upfront for them.

“We’re not going to do anything (this year),” Witulski said. “I already canceled the papers. So what we’re doing is we’re just going to take care of the needy with what we got.”

The situation led Macomb Trustee Roger Krzeminski, who also helps the Goodfellows fundraise, to make a plea at the Board of Trustees Nov. 28 meeting for residents to step up.

“I’m announcing tonight the possibility that Macomb Township Goodfellows are not going to be in existence anymore,” he said during the meeting. “This will be the first year that we are not going to be standing on the corners, unless someone stands up and helps us out.”

For the last 10 years, the Goodfellows have been pulling in less money for gifts. They averaged about $5,000 a year in the early 2000s, but that has dropped to only about $3,000 last year.

“It’s a good thing,” said Witulski of the organization. “I hate to see it go. We don’t make enough money to give a ton to each kid, but it’s something.”

Those interested in joining the Macomb Goodfellows can contact Krzeminski at (586) 247-6736 or Witulski at (586) 286-4030.