As paper drive approaches, Windsor Goodfellows in need now more than ever
The Windsor Goodfellows are putting out a call for help from the community, as their annual Paper Drive approaches.
Due to an over 40 per cent increase in food given away in each of the last two years, the non-profit has been challenged to sustain current service levels for the long run, not even taking into account increased costs and the growing need.
The Windsor Goodfellows is primarily known for the paper drive, and Christmas baskets assistance during the holidays, but what might not be commonly known is that they have a core team of volunteers in place throughout the year.
Those volunteers help support a year-round food bank, lunch for the homeless on Tuesdays and Fridays, a breakfast program in 27 schools and a children's footwear program, while also aiding other local charities and food banks throughout the city.
On November 23 until November 25, people will see the Goodfellows volunteers on the streets and in local shops in Windsor and Tecumseh collecting donations for the paper drive.
Brian Beaumont, newly elected president of the Windsor Goodfellows, says they've had a 43 per cent increase in the amount of clients this year at their food bank and together with an increase in food costs, it's made things extremely difficult.
"And that's not including any of our other programs. We have a lunch bag program that is up about 160 per cent. The lunch bag is a program where we give out a bag of food to the homeless in the area. Being in the core area where we are, we hand out about an average of 150 lunch bags to the homeless every Tuesday and every Friday," he said.
Beaumont says they're really struggling, as are other agencies in the city that support the less fortunate, and that's led them to having to pare back some of their programs.
They've had to make cuts to the food boxes they give out, to their nutrition program, to their boot and shoe program, to their lunchbag program, and Beaumont says they're also looking at a pretty large deficit at the end of the year as well.
"We were able to have a very successful paper drive last year, and for the last three or four years, we've managed to exceed our goals," he continued. "So we're hoping that we can do that again this year beyond all hope, because like I said our need this year is greater than probably ever before."
The Goodfellows have been in Windsor for 113 years, they've been doing the paper drive for 110 years now, and Beaumont says it's all been because of the generosity of the people who live here.
They've set a goal of $375,000 this year for the drive, and he's hoping the generosity will continue this year to help them keep going for many years to come.
Beaumont says they're always looking for volunteers, but especially this year.
"We're all getting a little old, a little long in the tooth. If there's any young volunteers, maybe some of these high school students that are looking to get volunteer hours, or anybody that's looking to volunteer with the Windsor Goodfellows. We're always looking for new volunteers, WindsorGoodFellows.org, there's a form there you can click on, fill it out, and somebody will get back to you."
A large amount of the Goodfellows annual income comes from the three days of selling papers to the community.
They're virtually an entirely volunteer organization, one employee and 600 plus volunteers, with minimal operating expenses so all the money raised is spent directly on programs for the poor in the local area.
More information about how to give back, or volunteer, can be found on the Goodfellows website.
Goodfellows sell newspapers on the streets of Windsor for their annual fundraiser (photo by AM800's Kimberley Johnson)