The Charles A. Conklin American Legion Post 28 Goodfellows in Grand Haven, MI is celebrating 59-years of teaming with local firefighters (City of Grand Haven Fire Dept., Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Twp., Crockery Twp., Robinson Twp., and Grand Haven Twp.) to provide Christmas toys and winter clothing to needy children this holiday season. Since 1959, Post 28 Goodfellows’ alliance with local firefighters has generated donations and toys through the “Crusade for Toys” program to ensure local families in-need are given a special Christmas -- which would otherwise -- be a hardship on those families. The local Salvation Army annually identifies eligible families for the program with Post 28 Auxiliary Unit members volunteering their time as gift shoppers -- at area stores -- and in wrapping gift boxes for local families.
For 21-years, Goodfellows Post 28 Committee Chair and past Post 28 Commander, Ray Ribbink, has volunteered his time and efforts to the program. “Seeing the kids ‘light-up’ with joy,” Ribbink says is what keeps his heart and spirit in the program -- along with -- the camaraderie among volunteers and local firefighters. Ribbink notes that families in-need during the holiday season has remained steady throughout the years with interactive toys, stuffed animals, clothes, bikes, learning games, and sports balls (e.g., soccer) popular gifts at Christmas time.
More than one-dozen volunteers meet at Post 28 daily during the Crusade for Toys program to assemble, package, and wrap boxes. Ribbink notes that approximately 140 families are scheduled to receive Christmas gift boxes this year.