Goodfellows paper sale moves to Kris Kringle Market

Fire Department fundraiser to support RANH food pantry

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 29, 2016

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ROCHESTER — For over 40 years, Rochester-area firefighters and volunteers have hit the streets of Rochester with red cans around their necks to collect money for the Rochester Area Neighborhood House food pantry during the annual Rochester Goodfellows paper sale campaign.

But this year, an attorney general’s opinion has forced volunteers to abandon the streets and move the campaign to the Kris Kringle Market Dec. 2-3.

“Earlier this year, the state attorney general came out and said soliciting in the public street was illegal and basically said that anything that would impede traffic, such as collecting money, would be considered illegal. So that really changed our philosophy on continuing the paper sales,” Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette opined July 29 that the state’s Uniform Traffic Code prohibits anyone from soliciting a vehicle occupant on a street or highway.

So this year, the Rochester Fire Department is moving its Goodfellows paper sale to the Rochester Downtown Development Authority’s Kris Kringle Market, on West Fourth Street, between Main and Walnut, Dec. 2-3. Cieslik said firefighters will meander through the crowds with their usual red cans, collecting money for the food pantry.

“We take anything — nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars. People have always been very generous, so it’s not uncommon for people to put a $5, $10 or a $20 in there. And each year, there is one person who always drops a $100 check in there,” Cieslik said.

The Fire Department has been raising money for those in need by selling Goodfellows papers since before 1974, with the help of the Rochester Hills and Oakland Township fire departments. Initially, Cieslik said, the money the Goodfellows collected went to purchase toys for local children during the holidays, but it has since shifted to support the Rochester Area Neighborhood House food pantry, which is housed within First Congregational Church, on Pine Street.

All of the funds collected during the paper drive directly support families in need in the Rochester area through the purchase of perishable food items, according to Kathy Losinski, executive director for the Neighborhood House.

“The food pantry provides staples like pastas and cereals and canned spaghetti sauces and so forth, but we also provide fresh food for the community. A lot of the vegetables and fruits are donated by area grocers, but we also offer milk, eggs, cheese, butter, chicken, ground beef and bread with every order — that takes shopping and funds to acquire those items, so that is what the Goodfellows collection does. It provides for those fresh items that clients take home with them when they take their food order,” she said.

Cieslik said the change in the fundraiser’s location will likely affect the amount raised this year.

“In the past, we’ve been averaging — over the last five years — around $15,000 a year, but this year, we are hoping to just get up to $5,000 because of the change in the process.”

Losinski said the money raised helps provide fresh items to people for a couple of months, depending on traffic flow.

“Through January and February, we definitely would not be able to get by without this donation,” she said.

The food pantry, which is operated by a team of volunteers, provides emergency food for individuals and families in need from Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township and Addison Township. The pantry sees anywhere from eight to 17 families per day.

In order to receive food, those seeking assistance are required to complete a screening process at the Neighborhood House’s main offices, and they can receive help up to six times per calendar year. The pantry hopes to provide enough food to last the individuals and families it serves 10-14 days.

Those wishing to donate food or money can visit the Neighborhood House, 1234 Inglewood Ave. in Rochester, or the food pantry inside First Congregational Church, 1315 N. Pine St. in Rochester.

For more information, call (248) 651-5836 or visit www.ranh.org.

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