By Jim Newell
Sometimes Santa doesn’t wear a red outfit with fluffy white trim.
This year, as has been the case for more than a half century, the Orion Township Firefighter Goodfellows will don their full fire gear and share that mantle with Kris Kringle.
From Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, the Goodfellows will be handing out special editions of The Lake Orion Review for a donation, raising funds for their holiday gift drive.
This season marks the 52nd year the Goodfellows will be selling special editions of The Review.
The Goodfellows hope to raise several thousand dollars so they can assemble food baskets to help families put meals on the table at Christmas time, said Brian Hearns, chapter president of the Goodfellows.
“We currently have 20 families, that includes 55 children, a new record high for children,” Hearns said.
Not only do the Goodfellows provide a Christmas dinner, they furnish the family a week’s worth of staples, such as “milk, bread, butter – stuff like that,” said Hearns, and also provide gifts for children and necessities such as winter clothes so the families can have a merrier Christmas.
“We are trying to do more so we can take in more families,” said Hearns. “(In 2016) they stretched it thin, so now with the Run with Fire 5K we could have a surplus, even if we have more families.”
The fire department hosted their second Run with Fire 5k Run/Walk in October. All proceeds from the race went toward the Goodfellows’ efforts.
Families who need a little extra help are identified through community organizations and word-of-mouth. With the aspiration to help more families, Hearns reached out to the Lake Orion schools. He emailed the school principals for more recommendations.
“Anyone can contact us if they know a family that needs our help. The person can remain anonymous, or, we can tell the family who provided us with their name,” Hearns said.
The firefighters then interview the families to find out what sort of items they need.
Traditionally, the Goodfellows have consisted of firefighters from station #3 on Gregory Road, but even those who have been gone from the station for 15 years still participate in Goodfellows, Hearns said, and today the Goodfellows includes firefighters from all four Orion Township fire stations.
Shopping and wrapping are a group effort, and Hearns said there are volunteers wrapping presents all over the fire station on packing day.
Some of the firefighters go off to Costco and purchase the food, while other firefighters and firefighters’ moms, wives, girlfriends, aunts – it’s open to anyone who wishes to help – shop for the gifts.
‘The Goodfellows motto is ‘No child should be without a Christmas,’” Hearns said.
And on Christmas Eve, the firefighters show up on the families’ doorstep with baskets and gifts in hand and live up to that motto.
Anyone interested in helping the Goodfellows holiday efforts, or to nominate a family in need, may do so by visiting the Orion Township Fire Department’s Station 3, 3365 Gregory Rd., or by emailing Brian Hearns at email@example.com.
Follow the Goodfellows online at www.facebook.com/OrionGoodfellows.
The Lake Orion Review offers our most heartfelt thanks to the Goodfellows for their continued commitment to the Orion community.