The Westland Goodfellows’ mission is clear. Creating lasting impact in our community by providing our families faced with financial challenges with toys, food and other supplies.
In recent years our fundraising methods have changed. Due to the safety concerns of our volunteers, we no longer sell papers in traffic on Thanksgiving weekend. We have several sources of fundraising and rely heavily on public support to administer our program. In November we reach out in the Westland community and make our annual appeal through a mailer. Please consider what Christmas means to you and your family and give generously to support a child in Westland.
Currently we administer two specific programs:
First and foremost is our Christmas Assistance Program. The Goodfellows accept applications submitted by families in need for Christmas assistance for their children. Families must be Westland residents and must demonstrate financial hardship to be approved. Recipients are then given shopping vouchers to be used at the Westland Target or Westland Meijer stores to purchase items for their children. Please know that those vouchers are restricted to items for the child, such as clothing, toys and small electronics. Purchases are reviewed in detail to maintain program guidelines. In addition, children also receive hats & gloves, coloring books & crayons, dental kits and donated toys collected by the Goodfellows. And finally, families will receive a food voucher to use at Heartland Market, a Westland grocery store.
Our secondary program is to help families in emergency situations related to residential fires. The Westland Fire Dept. often reaches out to us when a family is “burned out” of their home and is in need of immediate resources to find living quarters and replace clothing items. In May 2018 the Goodfellows offered assistance to the three apartment fires: Hampton Court, Woodland Villa, and Westwood Village. Forty three families were given assistance in their time of need.
It’s clear how important our program is to the residents of Westland, and it’s clear how much we value & need your support!
Our “No Child Without a Christmas” Program consists of the following:
Computerizing applications-to maintain an accurate database and account of all applicants.
Voucher program. Since 2009, we have issued a voucher spending amount for each child. This voucher is given to the parent or guardian to then be used at the Westland Meijer or the Westland Target. Vouchers are restricted to certain departments in the store. Parents are then able to shop for the individual needs of their child(ren). Shopping receipts are returned to us by Meijer/Target and we review the purchases of each applicant to verify the funds are used in an appropriate manner. And they are! In these trying economic times, parents spend the money on clothing, socks and undergarments, shoes, books, toys and games, and small electronics for their children. This method has empowered them to get the items they know their children want and need!
Food vouchers! It had been a goal of the Board of Directors to once again distribute food to Westland families at Christmas. In 2009, we were the grateful recipients of some unexpected funds donated by UAW Local 900 and its members, Ford Motor Company, suppliers to Local 900 and our hero Bill Johnson (Westland Councilman and Local 900 Chairperson), and we were able to purchase food boxes for each family! Since then, and with much thanks to their amazing fundraising efforts, we are able to purchase food vouchers for each family, from Heartland Market on Ford Rd. Each year we set up collection sites throughout the city where donors can drop off food. Additionally the Livonia Goodfellows are kind enough to share the food they collect in the Livonia Schools Food Drive. In 2014 we partnered with three local food pantries to receive this food collection and then our families could receive a specially packed food box.
Volunteer Involvement! The recent season brought us a whole new group of volunteers and lots who have returned from Christmas’ past. We were super excited to have so many people donate their time to our application season and the distribution event. Many were new faces to the Goodfellows and many had been present in the past. We hope to have a great return of those volunteers next season. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
Pick-Up Program. In years past, weather has impacted the ability to deliver packages on the scheduled delivery date. Additionally, there is a huge need for volunteers on the delivery date. By having recipients pick-up their packages at the Westland Friendship Senior Center we have solved a two fold problem.
Designated Shopping Days/Times: While Westland Meijer was able to continue to allow for our recipient families to shop on any open day/time, changes at Target’s corporate and store level required us to have volunteers in the store to use gift cards to pay for our families transactions. In order to do so, we chose specific days and times and matched them with available volunteers. At Pick-Up, we gave calendars listing those days/times to the families receiving Target vouchers. Our volunteers LOVED it! They greatly enjoyed being able to interact with our families and see what they were buying for their children. It was almost as good as seeing the smiling faces of the many children on Christmas morning!!