Firefighters hand out newspapers to brighten Christmas for area families
By Jim Newell
Sometimes, Santa doesn’t wear a red outfit with fluffy white trim.
This year, as they have done for more than a half century, the Orion Township Firefighter Goodfellows will don their fire gear and share the Santa role with Kris Kringle.
On Friday and Saturday, the Goodfellows, for the 53rd year, will be selling special editions of The Lake Orion Review and taking donations to raise funds for their annual Christmas basket program.
The Goodfellows hope to raise enough money so they can assemble baskets to help families put meals on the table and presents under the tree this Christmas, said Captain Eric Florence, president of the Orion Goodfellows.
Families who need a little extra help over the holidays are typically identified through community organizations, word-of-mouth or through recommendations from Lake Orion schools.
“We emailed all of the schools for families (who needed assistance) and we have over 30 families and almost 70 kids. We’re hoping to be able to generate enough revenue so that we don’t have to turn anyone away,” Florence said. “If we can help them all, awesome. That’s our goal.”
Last year, by comparison, the Goodfellows helped 21 families, including 55 children. Usually, they help 20-25 families each year.
Traditionally, the Goodfellows had consisted of firefighters from station #3 on Gregory Road.
Now, all of Orion Township’s firefighters, no matter where they’re stationed, take part in the Goodfellows, who also get more than a little help from their friends. Spouses, kids, family and friends all pitch in to help with the Christmas basket program, Florence said.
The Christmas baskets contain a holiday dinner, presents and food for a family for up to a week.
After the Goodfellows raise funds they – and their loyal troupe of volunteers – get to work on filling the specific requirements of each family they are assisting: the number of family members and the number, gender and age of the children all factor into what they purchase and pack for each family.
Some of the firefighters go off to purchase the food, while other firefighters and firefighters’ husbands, wives, moms, dads, girlfriends, aunts and uncles – it’s open to anyone who wishes to help – shop for the gifts.
Everyone meets the morning of Christmas Eve at one of the fire stations to begin sorting food, wrapping presents and packing everything into boxes.
It’s a group effort, with everyone wrapping presents and packing boxes all over the fire station on packing day.
And that’s where they could use help from Lake Orion High School students and other volunteers.
The Goodfellows invite Lake Orion High School students to join them during the Christmas basket packing by contacting them through their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/oriongoodfellows.
“This is a great opportunity for them to help out and get community service hours,” Florence said. “We especially need help wrapping presents.”
After the packing is finished, they load up the bounty into their vehicles for delivery.
“We’re usually done by 12-12:30 p.m.,” Florence said.
The Goodfellows motto is ‘No kid without a Christmas,’” Florence said.
And on Christmas Eve, the firefighters show up on Orion families’ doorsteps with baskets and gifts in hand to live up to that motto.
While the Goodfellows have fundraisers to help generate money for the Christmas baskets – they started the Run with Fire 5k three years ago with all proceeds benefiting the Goodfellows – the firefighters association also donates to their cause.
Volunteers and donations
Anyone who would like to volunteer can contact the Goodfellows through their Facebook page.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Goodfellows can make checks out to Orion Firefighter Goodfellows and mail them to 3130 W. Clarkston Rd., Lake Orion, MI 48362; or drop a check off at any fire station.
“Or they can contact us through the Facebook page and we’ll come pick it up from them,” Florence said.
The Lake Orion Review staff offer our most heartfelt gratitude and cheers to the Goodfellows for their continued commitment to the Orion community.