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ST. MARYS — A group of volunteers will soon be setting out to make sure needy families in the St. Marys School District have a happy holiday.
The annual Goodfellows drive is about to swing into full gear. The program, which encompasses the collection of toys via Toys for Tots as well as food items, attracts a dedicated legion of volunteers every year.
“It’s totally a volunteer effort,” St. Marys Community Foundation Director Mike Makley said. “We rely on volunteers to support the program and to help out with everything we do. We literally need a hundred plus volunteers to help us out on Christmas Eve. I did it last year and it’s a massive program and it’s amazing to see how it comes together.”
Starting next week, barrels will be placed at a variety of local businesses and industries as part of the Toys for Tots component. During the time toys are collected, food drives are held and items are purchased for boxes that will be delivered to needy families on Christmas Eve.
“Last year we supported more than 300 families,” Makley said. “I expect to hit at least that. I think the need is there and those who received them really appreciate them.”
Applications can be found in The Evening Leader, at its office at 102 E. Spring St., and at local banks. While the deadline for applications is Dec. 12, no one is turned away.
Boxes for the toys and food are assembled at the armory on Dec. 15. On Dec. 16, toys arrive and the sorting begins Dec. 21. Groceries are delivered to the armory Dec. 22 and the final sort takes place the next two days. On Dec. 24, boxes containing toys and food are delivered to local families between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
Makley said the group also gets a boost from dozens of Memorial High School students who help out during the toy sort and delivery.
“It’s been gratifying to see,” Makley said of the students volunteering. “Even as high school principal, we encouraged them and made it available to them and we had so many kids interested in it. Now we have many volunteers who are adults who come back, even college kids, to help and continue in that tradition. There are whole families that will come out and help.”
In addition to donating toys and food, the group also accepts monetary donations. Donations are used to purchase food for the boxes. Anyone who wants to volunteer is encouraged to come to the armory Dec. from 19-24.
For more information on the program, call the St. Marys Community Foundation at 419-394-5693.