Oxford Lions Club members are on a mission to brighten the holiday season by ensuring local kiddies wake up to presents under the Christmas tree and families facing tough times are still able to gather around bountiful dinner tables.
But they need your help to make it happen.
All you have to do is purchase a copy of this newspaper from a Lion.
This isn’t just any issue of the Oxford Leader. It’s the Goodfellow edition.
Members and associates of the Lions Club will be on the streets from Thursday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 1 selling 1,000 copies of this edition, all donated by Sherman Publications, Inc., owner of the Leader since 1955.
The Leader has been proudly providing newspapers for the Lions Club Goodfellow fund-raiser for decades.
“It’s a tradition that we’ve carried on for at least 50 years,” said Charlie Garrard, a Lion since 1972 and past club president.
Proceeds will be used to create Christmas baskets filled with groceries (including a ham or turkey), clothing and new toys for the community’s less fortunate folks. “We make sure everybody’s got something,” Garrard said.
This holiday season, the club will provide assistance to a total of 55 households, including 25 families with a combined 53 children, 22 senior citizens and eight adults.
Garrard believes this could be a record number. “It’s right up there. I can’t think of (a year) that’s been higher,” he said.
Beneficiaries of the Goodfellow fund-raiser are referred by community members, Oxford-Orion FISH, the school district and Lake Orion’s Lions Club.
“It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” Garrard said. “We don’t have to advertise, believe me.”
There’s no set price for a copy of the Goodfellow edition. People are encouraged to donate whatever they can spare.
“The average donation probably runs about $1 to $3,” Garrard said. “We get fives and tens. Once in a while you get a $20 bill. There are people who donate $50. It’s not very often, but it does happen.”
Garrard recalled he once received a $100 donation from a prominent executive in the auto industry and that gesture made his day.
But the donations that touch his heart the most come from folks who appear to need every penny they have.
“You’d be surprised by some of the people that hand you money,” Garrard said. “You want to give it right back to them because they don’t look like they’ve got two nickels to rub together.”
In addition to newspaper sales, the Lions Club gets plenty of help filling its Christmas baskets from a variety sources.
This year, the food drive at Oxford Middle School, coordinated by math teacher Beverly Stitzel, yielded three pickup truck loads of nonperishable groceries.
Also contributing food are American Axle in Oxford, Advanced Auto Trends, Lightning Technologies and Flagstar Bank branches in Oxford and Rochester Hills.
Employees at Vaughn Custom Sports in Oxford are donating new toys, while Oxford Cub Scout Pack 366 is adopting 10 of the children.
“We get a lot of help from a lot of people and we sure do appreciate it,” Garrard said.
Founded in 1947, the Oxford Lions Club is a small, but very active and determined group. Its members consistently lend a helping hand to everyone from individuals with vision and hearing impairments to local high school students seeking scholarships to folks struggling to survive on low or fixed incomes.
Garrard strongly believes in the Lions Club because he knows the money it collects “all goes to charity” unlike some large organizations where helping others seems to be “secondary” to covering overhead expenses and paying salaries.
“There’s probably 10 or 12 Lions Club charities that we support,” he said. “Our big one is Leader Dogs for the Blind (in Rochester Hills).”
In order to ensure the 71-year-old local club can continue its good works, Garrard said more members are needed.
“We’re running out of juice here. We’ve got to find some younger people,” Garrard said. “If we could find about a half-dozen, able-bodied people in their 30s and 40s that have a giving heart and understand what we’re doing, that would help us big time.”
For more information about the Lions Club or how to join call either Garrard at (810) 797-5840, Treasurer Dave Morden at (248) 628-1293 or President Ron Wood at (586) 219-6496.