ST. MARYS — An army of volunteers will soon take to the St. Marys Armory all in the name of giving this holiday season.
Goodfellows, which distributes toys and food to needy families within the St. Marys School District, is accepting applications for this season. St. Marys Community Foundation Administrator Mike Makley said the program has been active in the community for more than 50 years.
“It’s a tradition that has been carried on with great support, both financially and with volunteers,” Makley told The Evening Leader. “It’s all based on volunteers — we don’t solicit funds but they do come to the foundation, which helps us fund the food that we give to the families.”
Barrels are out at a slew of local businesses as part of the annual Toys for Tots campaign organized by Steve Mackenbach. Toys collected as part of the drive are delivered to the armory, where they are sorted by volunteers. The toys are then distributed, along with a box of food, on Christmas Eve.
“There are a lot of generous people here who know how important it is to give to those in need,” Makley said. “It seems like in the past few years, there has been a need for it.”
Last year, 366 families in the school district benefitted from the program. Makley said he expects to at least reach that number this year.
“There’s been a rush on applications early,” Makley said.
“I don’t know what it will be this year, but the need is strong. What concerns us again this year is the increase in the price of food — that impacts what we can provide in a quality food box.”
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 start being delivered to the armory on Dec. 14. Toys and food are scheduled to start being delivered on Dec. 17 and volunteers will begin sorting that week. In addition to the Goodfellows, members of the St. Marys Kiwanis Club and students from Memorial High School assist with the program. Makley said anyone who wishes to volunteer is invited to show up at the armory on Dec. 20 to help.
“The school provides us with a lot of help,” Makley said.
“The kids really benefit from it because they see there is a need and they also help deliver the packages.”
Makley said the program is rewarding for volunteers.
“Throughout the years, we have a lot of students who ask to come back every year and help,” Makley said. “We get a lot of college kids who come back just to help out ... They get such great satisfaction out of it and it does benefit the community. We do depend on a lot of people who return each year.”
For more information on the program, call the St. Marys Community Foundation at 419-394-5693.