Goodfellows kick off seasonal activities at Holiday Tree Lighting

Volunteers also needed for newspaper sale weekend after Thanksgiving

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 15, 2019


MADISON HEIGHTS — Knowing that hard times can fall on anyone, the Madison Heights Goodfellows continue to provide food and clothing assistance during the holidays, and Christmas gifts for families in need, in keeping with their motto, “No child without a Christmas.” Among the volunteers in the group are people who themselves benefited from the Goodfellows in the past.

The group will be collecting nonperishable food items at the upcoming Madison Heights Holiday Tree Lighting, set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25, at Madison Heights City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile Road. Toys will also be collected as Christmas gifts for the children. The goods are then stored in the police station’s basement for distribution sometime before Christmas.

And then on Saturday, Nov. 30, volunteers are asked to meet at the Club Venetian, 29310 John R Road, by 8:30 a.m. for their assignments selling special editions of the Madison-Park News at major intersections throughout the city, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will be joined in the effort by volunteers from the Madison Heights Lions Club and other community organizations.

And their work doesn’t stop there, as on the same day, from 4 to 9 p.m. at Augie’s Bar & Grill, 31660 John R Road, there will be a fundraiser dinner featuring entertainment and a silent auction, with tickets costing $10 per person and all money going to the Goodfellows. From 3 to 5 p.m. the same day, Augie’s will also host photos with Santa, where one can have their children photographed with Santa in exchange for a donation to the Goodfellows.

As always, one can also donate money, food or items to the silent auction at Augie’s by calling the Goodfellows’ help line, (248) 837-2779. As for families in need, they are typically referred to the Goodfellows by school teachers and counseling staff, and parents also pick up applications inside the Madison Heights Police Department.

Public safety personnel are deeply involved with the Goodfellows. In addition to the police station providing space for storing and preparing the items, the police officers and firefighters will also be accompanying children on a shopping spree at a local store during the Shop with a Hero event, the children picking out gifts for themselves, with everything funded by the Goodfellows.

“It serves a dual purpose,” said Linda Corbett, the Goodfellows’ treasurer. “Children are allowed to select a personalized gift for themselves while seeing the members of the Fire or Police department as real live heroes who care about the community.”

Linda’s husband, Madison Heights City Councilman Robert Corbett, said the Goodfellows have a history with their family.

“My grandfather was stricken by rheumatoid arthritis as a fairly young man, which limited his job options. Adding onto it was also the Depression era, and my dad and his siblings experienced a very poor childhood without many frills. My dad always said if it weren’t for the Goodfellows and their gift bags of socks, dolls and oranges, there may not have been any Christmas at their home,” Corbett said. “Linda’s mom … also was helped by the Goodfellows. I think it would be impossible to even estimate how many neighbors have become lifelong supporters of the Goodfellows in gratitude for the gestures of love and compassion that brought Christmas magic to their childhood.”

The Goodfellows assisted 110 families last holiday season, including nearly 290 children.

As for the Holiday Tree Lighting Nov. 25, there will be local school bands playing onstage, cookies and hot chocolate, live reindeer from Carousel Acres, vendors with crafts and activities, Santa arriving by fire engine to receive the key to the city, and, of course, plentiful lighting. There will also be photos with Santa in the Breckenridge Room at the library next door.

“The lights are much the same scope as years past,” said Melissa Marsh, the city manager, noting that the front of City Hall, the library campus, the gazebo and the Avenue of Mayors will once again be the focal point of the display. “We continue to change out our lighting to LED, which provides a significant energy savings and a more vibrant light. Also, thanks to the generosity of our residents and houses of worship throughout the city, we were able to replace the aged components of the Nativity scene, menorah and holiday display, which is set up in front of the library. Our budget for new and replacement lights is about $2,000 a year, provided by donations. The lights will stay up … through the new year.”

Sean Ballantine, an analyst and planner for the Madison Heights Department of Public Services, said the tree lighting is a cherished tradition.

“The event has a long history — many of those who bring their children to it attended themselves when they were kids,” Ballantine said. “For me, it’s a tangible start to the holiday season — a reminder of peace and goodwill throughout the city. And in the case of the decorations themselves, a bright spot of cheer during the long and cold winter nights.”