Auction of 1973 Cadillac will benefit Good Hands Plainwell

By: 
Daniel Pepper

You could fit a lot of groceries to donate for Good Hands Plainwell to send home with students who need food help into the trunk of one 1973 Cadillac El Dorado.
The charity, however, is going to find out how many kids they can help for the whole car. An anonymous donor gave the car to the local nonprofit and it will be auctioning it off online at www.repocast.com on Thursday, July 19.
Good Hands board member Donna Gorton said, “It’ll be used to purchase food. All proceeds of the sale will let us keep providing weekend food bags for school children.”
The group makes sure students are getting enough to eat when they aren’t at school.
The 1973 Cadillac El Dorado convertible has only 14,000 miles on it and is currently on display at Jim Koestner’s in Plainwell and will be through the upcoming Plainwell Days festival.
Gorton said, “It’s a boat. I took a young teenager to see it a few weeks ago and said you’ve go to see this, you’ll never see one on the road anymore.”
Originally the idea had been discussed to auction the car off during the festival, but Good Hands went with the online auction thinking that would give them the maximum potential to raise money.
“We’d hoped to have it where people could bid online during the festival, but I guess they can’t do that,” Gorton said.
They can, however, check out the Caddie and then bid online.
Gorton said they appreciated Koestner’s help.
“They’ve always been helpful,” she said. “It was perfect to have in a safe location where people could also view it.”
Gorton said she personally hopes the auction can cover a year of food voucher costs, but the volunteers aren’t sure what the auction will raise.
“It’s been all over the board, people tell us a lot and others say not so much,” she said. “We don’t know.”
Good Hands helped 190 to 211 kindergarteners through sixth graders who receive free and reduced lunch at Plainwell Community Schools.
“It fluctuates because people move in and out and we guess that some people get new jobs and don’t need it,” Gorton said.
The group spent $26,000 in donations during the 2017-18 school year to help students by sending food home with them. That doesn’t count what the group receives as far as in kind donations.
“We have very little cost outside of food, we have no paid staff,” Gorton said. “It’s all done by volunteers.”
Every month students receive a large jar of peanut butter or equivalent and a voucher for a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs for each child in the family. The cost for the vouchers for a year was $4,676.
The weekly food donations include more. One from May 4 included more peanut butter (or equivalent), macaroni and cheese, tomato soup, rice krispy treats, chili mandarin oranges and two kinds of cereal. The same menu isn’t given out every week and it repeats after seven weeks. More food is given out at holidays.
If people donate it, the group will distribute it to help out, including handing out 204 toothbrushes this past year.
The help is anonymous.
“All the children are anonymous to us,” Gorton said. “We get locker numbers from the school and that’s all we know.”
Bags go into children’s backpacks, anonymously. Gorton said she’s heard they’re called “The Food Fairy” at Gilkey Elementary School.
The bags are also color-coded, with “allergy bags” for kids who need those being a different color. One group of volunteers packs bags on Thursdays and another distributes it to the schools.
The group can always use more volunteers and board members.
“We do need board members because some of us have been on the board for a long time and have no one to take over,” Gorton said. “We could surely use someone who could handle advertising, fundraising and there’s a lot of things we could use a person for.
“We want it to be something they’re very interested in and have a heart for.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or helping out in other ways should call Del Bier at (269) 615-5438.

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