The mother of three was typical of folks who come to the Goodfellows: She doesn’t like to ask for help.
“This is the first year I’ve asked for this,” she said.
This is also the first year that the Star-Telegram’s annual Christmas season charity is totally digital. Applications for $50 J.C. Penney gift cards are taken online only at www.goodfellowfund.org.
So far, program Executive Director Richard Greene said, the switch has been a “huge success” and helped make the application and qualification process “much more efficient.” While no paper applications are available this year, it hasn’t stopped more than 7,000 moms, dads, grandparents and other guardians from applying, he said.
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The spiffy new website is also where generous readers can donate to help put new clothes and shoes on deserving Tarrant County children; where folks with servants’ hearts can volunteer; and where anyone who hasn’t heard of the program can get questions answered.
For instance, there’s a brief history of a program introduced locally in 1911 by the Advertising Club of Fort Worth, adopted in 1912 by the Star-Telegram’s founding publisher, Amon Carter, and introduced to readers by then-Editor James North, who urged everyone to become “Good Fellows” by helping children.
For decades, Star-Telegram employees and their families and friends handled everything — even delivering such things as food and firewood to homes in the earliest days. These days, applicants are interviewed and their eligibility confirmed by volunteers with the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.
Last year, the program bought clothes and shoes for about 18,000 kids.
Fortunately, when the 2015 fund campaign ended in June, donations totaled almost $865,000, surpassing the $850,000 goal.
But the number of folks who step up to be “Good Fellows” hasn’t increased for several years. That’s likely why the 2015 total fell short of 2014’s $876,000. But organizers were encouraged by last year’s total.
Having contributions near the same pace as the prior year was terrific, Greene said. “I think this is significant as you look at the continued uncertainty of the economy. Again, testament to the generosity of our community and the legacy of our now over 100-year-old fund.”
Anticipating that that trend may continue, the Goodfellow Fund board of directors reduced the target from 18,000 to 17,000 children this Christmas.
“We have about 80 percent of the applicants we can serve this year,” Greene said. “Traditionally we reach the limit of the number we can serve around the first week of November. This year is on the same track.
“We can always use more volunteers, though.”
What hasn’t changed for folks like that typical mother is the pain in parents’ hearts when they think of the looks they’ll see on their kids’ faces if there’s nothing under the Christmas tree.
“Hopefully I can get the gift cards so my kids can get something that they will like,” the mom said.
Be a jolly Goodfellow
Since 1912, the Star-Telegram has asked readers to donate to the Goodfellow Fund. They have always responded generously. You can be a part of the tradition by sending a donation to Goodfellows, Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76101. Or go online to our secure website, goodfellowfund.org, and make a credit card donation. More information about the fund is also available there.