Godfrey Women’s Club baked all of the cookies for the year’s Cookies and Cocoa Community Christmas event.
The yearly event, sponsored by United Way and Telegraph, raises money, toys, and clothes for 15 local agencies. These agencies then distribute the goods to more than 6,000 less fortunate families in Riverbend. According to his mother and shop co-owner Margaret Freer, David would purchase sale items throughout the year and save them for the event.
When David passed away in an automobile accident on September 11, 2008, the Freer family decided to go even further with their contributions to Community Christmas by creating Cookies and Cocoa for Community Christmas the following December.
“Freer Auto Body is very community minded,” said Margaret. “Our community has supported us 100 percent in all of our endeavors, so we try to give back as often as possible.”
The shop’s finances, office management, public relations, and “you name it” are handled by Margaret. Her son, Tim, who co-owns the shop, took over as president after David passed away. Margaret’s husband and daughter-in-law are also employees.
The family’s seventh annual Cookies and Cocoa event, which took place on December 4, has raised $3,800 in cash donations so far, as well as 41 bikes and barrels of coats and toys.
“We bought 36 of the bikes, and then our friends contributed the other five,” said Margaret. “I buy the coats from Rothschild; they give me an 85 percent discount for the event.”
This year, Godfrey Women’s Club made all the cookies for Cookies and Cocoa, while in past years, Margaret and her two granddaughters, Taylor, 11, and Lily, 8 were in charge of baking. “[Godfrey Women’s Club] is a group of local women who do a lot of good in the community,” said Margaret. “We are friends with all the ladies, so one of the members asked if she could make the cookies this year, which saved me a lot of work.”
The traditional holiday season isn’t the only time the Freers spread Christmas cheer. For the past five summers, they have raised money for the Community Christmas in December with a Christmas in July event.
“It all started when Taylor wanted to donate her piggy bank to Community Christmas,” said Margaret. “I suggested they start a lemonade or Kool-Aid stand instead.”
The idea for a lemonade stand took off, and turned into a full-blown fundraiser. The girls raised $2,500 the first year, $6,500 the third year, and a whopping $18,200 this past summer.
Margaret’s granddaughters, Taylor and Lily Freer, pose in front of the spread of cookies before the crowd comes.
“My granddaughters and their friends do everything - they wait on people, serve food, sell the raffles, etc., while we make 100 lbs of Sloppy Joe’s.”
The yearly prize for the raffle winner is a trip to Disneyland.
Margaret and the rest of the family at Freer Auto Body ask 50 of their friends to sell 20 raffle tickets for $10 a piece in order to reach $10,000.
This year alone, Freer Auto Body raised over $36,000 in cash donations, toys, and clothes for Community Christmas, which is one of the many reasons the Godfrey Women’s Club awarded the shop a Golden Leaf in 2011.
“We are the most respected body shop in the community,” Margaret said.
Please call United Way’s Southwest Illinois Division at 618-258-9800 or visit HelpingPeople.org for more information.