Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 18, 2012

Goodfellows providing help for local families

By Ken de la Bastide
KT photo | Tim Bath

— If it wasn’t for the Goodfellows program, Samantha Hite would probably not be able to provide Christmas for her 2-year-old daughter.

Hite was among the more than 100 parents at the Meijer store Monday for the second of five nights of shopping provided by the local charity overseen by Jean Lushin and the Center Township Trustee’s Office.

More than 1,400 children were expected to receive new clothing items this Christmas.

“This means a lot,” Hite said. “Without this, I probably wouldn’t be able to get anything. Without Goodfellows, I probably wouldn’t have nothing for her.”

Hite said she had a job but is not currently working.

“It’s tough to find a job,” she said. “I’ve been applying for a couple of weeks.”

Hite planned on buying her daughter a couple of outfits and got some toys earlier Monday from Toys for Tots.

“This is my first time,” she said. “I donated before. Now I’m using it.”

Heather Martin was shopping for her two children ages 2 and 7. She planned on buying boots, tennis shoes and clothes.

“I think this is wonderful,” she said. “I’m blessed.”

Martin, who also has received assistance from Goodfellows in the past, said she was surprised the first year she received help.

“Most places don’t do this,” she said.

William Roberson, has been out of work since February and medical issues have prevented him from finding work. Roberson said he is working on resolving the medical issues so he can find work.

He was shopping for his 7-year-old son.

“This is the first time we’ve had to do this,” Martin said. “It’s really neat the community does it.”

The Christmas charity, started by Kokomo Tribune employees in 1911 and made up of volunteers, provides clothing to thousands of less fortunate children every year.

Goodfellows spends more than $100,000 annually on clothing for children in need, with the majority of the donations coming from WWKI’s We Care program and individual donations.

Deb Harrison has been a volunteer since 1988 and works every night.

“The best thing is the thankful people,” she said. “There are true needs here and the people appreciate it. There are lots of smiles.”

The Kokomo High School wrestling team volunteered to help sack the purchases during the night.

Coach Ryan Wells said this was the second year the team has volunteered to help Goodfellows.

“It’s to give back to the community,” he said. “We want to do something good. It’s good for the guys and hopefully is something they will continue to do in the future.”

Wells said team members have a lot of fun together and are getting to do something good for the community.