The Windsor Goodfellows are gearing up for their 110th annual Christmas newspaper drive amid surging demand for their programs since the same time last year.
Officials said Windsor Goodfellows programs and food bank use has soared 43 per cent year over year, hopeful that this year’s fundraiser will be a success.
“It is crazy,’ said incoming president Brian Beaumont.
“We typically pack about 2000 boxes about once every three months. Now that 2000 boxes lasts us six weeks.”
Beaumont said the organization has had to use reserve funds to maintain scaled back programs, suggesting the paper drive to be the most important fundraiser of the year.
“We have five different programs and all of our programs are hurting right now,” Beaumont explained. “We’ve had to make some minor adjustments. We’ve had to cut back on a couple of things because this is our 113th year of doing this and 110th year doing our newspaper drive and we want to make sure we’re around for a long, long time to come.”
He continued, “Fortunately, we’re able to cover the shortcomings for this year but you can’t continue to go that route. We’re looking at a very large deficit at the end of this year. So our fundraising is the newspaper drive, it’s our major fundraiser.”
Incoming Goodfellows president Brian Beaumont in Windsor, Ont., on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)
The money raised will go towards the Goodfellows Christmas food boxes as well as year round programs like the food bank, school breakfasts and their shoe and boot program.
Beaumont told CTV News, “We have one paid employee, that’s it. One paid employee. So over 95 per cent of all monies raised goes right back out into the public. We try to shop local as much as possible. All the monies that are raised they’re raised through the people of Windsor Tecumseh and LaSalle and we want to make sure that that money that’s brought in from that area stays in this area so we shop local as much as possible.”
According to incoming vice-president Stephen Harrison, there is no stereotype that fits the clientele utilizing the food bank.
“We have clients that we haven’t seen in five years coming back,” Harrison explained. “So we know the need is out there.”
He said, “We’re extremely busy right now. We do a street bag program for mainly the homeless and the need for that is up 160 per cent. It’s everybody and anybody.”
Harrison continued, “I just had a client in here a bit ago that got laid off and never expected this to happen to him. That’s quite emotional for some and they don’t want to be here, but we’re here for a long time or a short time. Whatever their need is.”
Last year’s paper drive was the group’s most successful to date, bringing in more than $393,000.
“Would be nice if we hit that again,” Beaumont exclaimed. “We’ve set our goal this year at $375,000. Certainly with that, it’ll help us get through but yeah, last year was phenomenal and you know, it would be nice to have another year like that for sure.”
“The generosity of the citizens of Windsor is is phenomenal. Without the people of Windsor, we couldn’t do what we do,” Beaumont said.
This year’s fundraiser takes place in Windsor, Tecumseh and LaSalle November 23-25.
Beaumont added, “Please remember to bring your cash in your vehicles with you or to the stores, we’ll gladly take anything you can give us.”
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