Ever since he joined the Hastings Sertoma club 27 years ago, Bill Ries has never missed the first day of volunteering for Goodfellows.
He and other club members have been a staple on the first night of weeklong volunteer work. Their annual contribution to Goodfellows involves taping hundreds of flat cardboard pieces into boxes that are used to pack food and toys throughout the week for families in need during the Christmas holiday.
“It’s good to know you’re doing something that’s benefiting other people,” Ries said Monday in between putting labels on the boxes that will be delivered to families in need later this week. “This is a program that’s been in place in the community a long time, so people are very willing to support it.”
Ries said that the process of assembling the Goodfellows boxes has been an uplifting event for the volunteers, as many of them only see each other around this time of year.
“I see many people who have been doing this for years, and this may be the only time we get to see each other. So it’s fun for us, too,” he said.
The Goodfellows program collects toys and cash donations from around the community, and then volunteer groups and Tribune employees pack the food and the toys into boxes for individual families. About 200 families will be served by the program this year.
Sertoma member Debra Sharrick said volunteering for Goodfellows aligns with the group’s mission to serve in the Hastings community. Throughout the year, the club conducts fundraisers and coordinates other volunteering events to benefit the deaf and hard of hearing.
Along with assembling and labeling boxes in Monday night’s assembly line, the Sertoma club also gave a $250 donation to the Goodfellows program.
“Service is big for us, and this has been an event we’ve always enjoyed,” Sharrick said. “We feel strongly about the project and the good it does in the community.”
Members of the Hastings High School DECA club also were volunteering Monday, taking toys from donation bins and sorting them into groups by the gender and age.
“It makes you feel good,” said DECA member and HHS Senior Aaron Tillemans, who is volunteering for Goodfellows for his second year. “It’s fun for us, and it’s important to give back to people.”