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Oxford community raises nearly $50,000 for local, family-owned bowling alley

bowling alley
Posted at 11:12 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 23:19:12-05

OXFORD, Mich (WXYZ) — When the ball drops at midnight, dozens of Oxford families would tell you there’s no better place to be than under the neon lights at Collier Lanes.

"The fact that we could be local and be safe and enjoy ourselves and have some fun times with or without the food or drinks, it still is something to do,” said bowler Shelly Deel.

But this year, most of those lanes will remain empty. The food and drink revenue will come to a grand total of 0 dollars. An amount now all too familiar for the third-generation owner.

“Well it's been a big struggle," said owner Jeff Collier. "I'm not sure we were gonna make it.”

Seventy-two years. That’s how long Jeff Collier’s family has owned the Oxford bowling alley. Generations of Colliers, including Jeff himself, fill the front display case. Along with longtime supporters like JR Lafnear.

“I've been here for over 50 years coming up to this bowling center, and I just can't imagine Oxford being Oxford without it,” said Lafnear, who is also the Oxford High School Varsity bowling coach.

He might not be in the family photos, but this place feels like family to Lafnear. With his family struggling, he wanted to help.

“It was not going to make it, it was really on life support because you cannot go 6-8 months with no income whatsoever,” Lafnear said.

So JR hatched an idea. A drive thru fundraiser to help keep the business alive. In just a few hours, the community raised nearly $45,000.

“Oh, I was astounded," Collier said. "Flabbergasted, just couldn't believe it.”

A family business will see another day, thanks to their even larger family chipping in. Even as a global pandemic keeps them apart, true family always finds a way to come together.

“That was the best thing to come out of it," Lafnear said. "Yeah we got the bowling center some money, but we reunited and united the community to step up for one of their own.”

Even after the fundraiser, more donations have continued to trickle in, with the now is closer to $50,000. If you're interested in helping out, contact JR at jrlafnear@charter.net.