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Goodfellows distributes more than 750 gifts to children during annual Christmas Eve event

SYCAMORE – More than 750 clothing items were distributed to children in need this Christmas Eve during an annual donation drive Friday morning hosted by Goodfellows.

The 755 items of clothing were distributed to families in need during a drive-thru event Friday. The format was amended amid the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said.

“I’ve been involved with Goodfellows for about 33 years,” said Sandy Lancaster, one of the volunteers who spent her Christmas Eve morning at Blumen Gardens in Sycamore. “I started out volunteering.”

Normally, organizers and volunteers gather indoors at Blumen Gardens to pick up pre-wrapped bags of donations, and then head out around the DeKalb and Sycamore area to deliver the gifts directly to people’s homes. With pandemic safety in mind, Friday’s event was adapted accordingly, much like it was in 2020.

“We learned a lot of how the drive-thru went last year, and it went really well, and we anticipate this year being the same,” said Jason Weilbaker, current president of Goodfellows. “It’s balancing what we need to get done with being as safe as possible.”

Weilbaker took over the local organization that provides gifts to children in need every Christmas, about a year ago.

“The whole spirit of Christmas is giving,” said Weilbaker. “You want to give gifts. Our goal the last couple of years has been to try and raise awareness for our organization. In the past, we have always had the same small group of people that have supported us.”

Weilbaker said those interested can follow Goodfellows on social media to stay up to date on the organization’s events and efforts, or call (815) 981-9285 or email info@goodfellowscharity.org.

Weilbaker said the nearly 800 local children served this year is part of a trend organizers have seen of late, an expansion of those in need in the community.

“We need to be agile in our organization as the demand for gifts continues to grow each year,” he said. “There are a lot of people in our community that don’t know who we are, so we have really been trying to push for an online presence, while doing other fundraising events to get other people involved. That is really a goal for us, just making sure everyone in our community is aware of who we are and what we do.”

Jacob Magan, 32, has been volunteering since he was a child.

“It is amazing to see how much it has grown over time,” Magan said. “I can remember when we first started doing this, it would take almost half the day. And now you see how much the town has really rallied behind it.”

Magan said he makes a point to volunteer his time every year, and it’s become a Christmas Eve tradition.

“One of the best parts of the holidays for me is doing this in the morning,” Magan said. He traveled from Arlington Heights with his fiancee to participate with the gift drop off.

One of the newer members of Goodfellows, Chris Brown, who is responsible for all of the design work, jumped at the bit when Magan invited him on to help.

“I have seen a lot of people in need around our community, and just putting a smile on these kids’ faces is one of the most incredible things that you can do,” Brown said. “I am very fortunate, it is a great thing that we can do here.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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