Today many people will come through the doors of Memory Lanes Bowling and Banquet Hall in Clintonville, and leave with their arms laden with much-needed groceries and Christmas gifts they would not otherwise be able to afford.
It’s distribution day for a unique charitable organization called the Clintonville Goodfellows Association, whose volunteers have been busy this week assembling boxes of non-perishable foods, purchasing toys, and gathering all other items they’ve been collecting from the local community.
Over the past 70 years, Goodfellows has provided ample holiday cheer to area residents in need. The organization has long served the Clintonville School District, providing families with a box of food and toys for the children during the Christmas holiday season.
“It’s truly a community effort. We started visiting businesses, schools and churches right around Halloween, and by mid-December we’ve amassed incredible amounts of donations,” says Steve Conradt, Goodfellows president. “I get choked up when I see the faces of those who come through the doors, and I see how blown away they are by the generosity of others.”
This year, Goodfellows received a boost of a $1,000 grant from the Clintonville Area Foundation.
“Thanks to this grant, we were able to rent a storage unit for all of the outpouring of donations. It was packed,” Conradt says.
The grant also helped provide sturdy shelving, storage bins and a means to purchase items like mittens, gloves, boots and hats when they go on sale
after the holidays.
Most of the items people receive are donated by individuals, area charitable groups, churches, businesses and students. In addition to the toys, food and other gifts, each family receives a voucher redeemable at Tadych’s Econo Foods in Clintonville, allowing them to purchase additional groceries.
Last year the organization expanded its Clintonville reach to include the Marion School District. This year the number of people served is estimated at 600. The nearly 200 households being served are comprised of singles, couples and families of all sizes with children. Conradt says donations to Goodfellows has grown to the point that volunteers aren’t able to do home deliveries anymore, so families come on distribution day.
“Over the years the need has never gone away, but we all have the same hopes and dreams for our families. Goodfellows is going to do our little part to make some of those dreams come true,” Conradt says.
Here is a gallery with just some of the many generous donors to Goodfellows in the past several weeks:
(Click arrows to play)