The Goodfellows Club began in 1916 with the simple idea of Lawrence Hager that “no child should be forgotten at Christmas.”
Since then, the club has grown to provide not only the Christmas party but also clothing, shoes, and emergency medical and dental services for Owensboro and Daviess County residents.
The organization has been growing its fundraising efforts because every donation goes to meet local school children’s needs.
Donations events range from the annual Luke Woodward tennis classic and the soup days hosted by various schools, businesses and even Goodfellows — which moved their hosting event to February 2023 — to the annual Owensboro Choral Society performance of Messiah and this year’s Lambert Pioneer Christmas at Yellow Creek Park.
“The goals and planning of the original board members were important,” said Executive Director Sherry Baber. “The costs are now so much greater.”
Baber’s position was created through a grant from Public Life Foundation of Owensboro, and because of her background in education and also serving previously on the board of directors for Goodfellows, the organization is hoping to get the newer generation to become involved.
“We need to get the younger generation to see the need and value through social media and different community events,” she said.
The Goodfellows Club Christmas Party is the primary event for school children and Baber said that the party cannot happen without the community’s help.
A surge in requests from local Family Resource and Youth Service Centers have already been met, but during the annual Roll Call — the major fundraising event that happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas — the organization is hoping to raise $200,000.
“Every penny goes directly to the children,” Baber said.
This year’s party has been recreated and planned with the FRYSCs. It has been moved to a Friday night during the school year to get more children there and it is being held at Owensboro Christian Church, a central location in Owensboro-Daviess County.
There will be seven stations for children to visit, including face painting, decorating cookies, making ornaments and stockings. Volunteers are needed for stations as well as distributing toys and helping set up and take down the event.
“At all activities we can use volunteers; we really encourage volunteers to help,” Baber said. “Volunteers can stay a couple of hours or the whole time. If someone is elderly and can’t stand, they can sit the whole time so they can participate. We just want people to participate.”
Baber said the Owensboro Police and Fire departments are a tremendous help in setting up and tearing down the event as well as helping during the event.
Interested volunteers, 8th grade and up, can just show up to help. Extra help will be needed beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 to get the toy area and stations ready for Christmas party guests.
“Everybody’s going to be busy,” Baber said.
Contributions to the Goodfellows Club can be mailed or dropped off at the Messenger-Inquirer at 1401 Frederica Street, or they can be made online.