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Continue the tradition, buy a Goodfellow paper

December 01, 2010 - By Chris Hagan

Special to the Review

Christmas brings with it tradition, whether it's gathering at a grandparents house with family or simply watching 24 hours of "A Christmas Story." It's the tradition of watching a child barely fall asleep, then watching their faces illuminate the next morning on Christmas Day.

It's both a Christmas tradition and child-like joy that drive the Goodfellows of Orion Township Fire Station 3 in Gingellville to ensure families have food on the table and children have a gift on Christmas.

On any chilly, December morning at 3 a.m., most can find themselves nestled under the covers dreading the early buzz of an alarm clock. But for the boys at Station 3, it's not uncommon for their early, brisk mornings to be filled with alarming pagers, sirens, and emergencies. Their preparedness is true through out and it doesn't cease to stop once Old Saint Nick begins to make his appearance.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, firefighters will be in full fire gear selling newspapers to help raise money to complete their mission of giving families in need a wonderful holiday.

"Our goal is to makes sure families celebrate a more joyous Christmas," said Bob Hudak, president of The Goodfellows and an orion firefighter. "We give food and we make sure the kids have something to unwrap that morning."

The firefighters, whose experience rages from beyond 20 years to one year, will be on Baldwin Road at four locations including Kroger and Panera Bread. In addition to the two, these local heroes will also be posted at the Big Boy and Tom's Coney, also on Baldwin Road.

"People can donate money but they can also donate all kinds of toys," Capt. Richard Chuck said. "The money really helps the Goodfellows buy food and living essentials."

They're also encouraging people to donate toys for any child between the ages of 1-17.

On Christmas Eve, after all the shopping for food and toys is completed, behind the large, white bay-doors of Station 3 there will be a flutter of organized chaos littered with Christmas cheer. Firefighters and their families will be using countless rolls of wrapping paper and hundreds of feet of scotch tape in order to meet their Christmas Eve delivery date.

"It's really a lot of work but it's such a good time," Hudak said. "The wives and especially the kids really get into it."

With the help of a few pickup trucks, the Goodfellows load them to capacity and disperse throughout the township to deliver the food packages and freshly wrapped gifts. Chuck, whose been an Orion Goodfellow for 15 years, says that it can be very emotional going to someone's residence.

"The dad told his kids there wasn't going to be a Christmas this year," said the Goodfellow's treasurer recalling a previous year. "We walked in with our toys and baskets of food and his eyes began to tear. You really feel proud at a moment like that. It really hits your heart"

The Goodfellows are always looking for families to help and they rely heavily on citizen nominations. All information is strictly confidential, and deliveries are made very discretely.

"There are only so many ways we can get the word out with confidentiality laws and all," Hudak said. "So we'd really appreciate if anybody knows a family in need to contact us."

For 44 years now, the Goodfellows have been helping out families and it's the hope of all the Goodfellows, that as the years pass, they're able to help more families.

"Even though we give back to the community through our jobs, this takes it to another level," said firefighter Nathan Hill. "I love doing it and helping even more of the people."

If you'd like more information about the Goodfellows, would like to inquire about donating, or have a family to nominate, contact the Orion Township Fire Department at 248-693-9701 or send an email to otffgf@gmail.com.

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