Goodfellows need toys, clothing to help spread holiday cheer

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published December 7, 2021

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Their motto is “No child without a Christmas,” and for decades the Madison Heights Goodfellows have delivered toys, clothing and food to families in need.  

But for the last two years, collecting donations has been difficult, since the pandemic has forced the group to cancel or curtail many of their fundraisers.

Madison Heights City Councilman Robert Corbett is a board member of the Madison Heights Goodfellows, and his wife Linda Corbett is the treasurer.

Robert said that the greatest need right now is for toys, but donations of money will also go a long way toward helping those in need.

New and unwrapped toys, clothing, nonperishable food items, and checks made out to the Madison Heights Goodfellows can be mailed to the Madison Heights Police Department, 280 W. 13 Mile Road, Madison Heights, MI 48071, or dropped off at the station.

“Lists of families are given to us by the schools,” Linda Corbett said. “Occasionally, referrals are made by the Police and Fire departments.”

“When volunteers receive specific families to help, they attempt to match toys and gifts to the specific interests of the children,” Robert Corbett said.

Linda Corbett noted that the Madison Heights Goodfellows usually help about 150 families each year.

“This year is running pretty close to that number,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic, the Goodfellows newspaper sale was a major fundraiser for the group. The sale was held the weekend after Thanksgiving, and done in collaboration with C & G Newspapers, with volunteers selling special copies of the Madison-Park News at major intersections throughout the city of Madison Heights.

But COVID has put that tradition on hold for now. Other fundraisers and donation drives have been similarly cancelled.

“Really, what has saved us, especially the last couple years, has been support from local businesses who adopted many families and kept our toy closet full,” Linda Corbett said.

The Madison Heights Police have also been a steadfast ally for the Goodfellows. In addition to the police station serving as the Goodfellows’ base of operations, where toys and other items are stored and prepared, the police also assist with the distribution, and they participate in the “Shop with a Hero” program where officers accompany kids on shopping sprees, allowing kids to pick out their own presents.

Historically, a member of the Madison Heights Police Department has also been the president of the Goodfellows. Currently, that officer is Madison Heights Police Lt. Alan Fecteau.

For the Corbett family, there is a personal connection to the past, something that is true for many volunteers involved with the Goodfellows.

“When my mother was a young girl, the only Christmas gifts she got was from the Goodfellows — a couple of oranges, some food for dinner, and one toy,” Linda Corbett said.

“Same with my family,” Robert Corbett said. “Back during the darkest days of the Great Depression, some fruit, socks and wooden toys kept the spirit of Christmas giving alive during some bleak years.”

To keep a good thing going, the Goodfellows will also need more helping hands involved.

“We always need new members,” Robert Corbett said. “Replenishing the pool of volunteers is always such an important aspect of any charity.”