In the days following a November 1912 front-page invitation for Star-Telegram readers to “be Santa Claus” to needy children, appeals in a column of Twitter-length notices called Little Locals urged “men & boys” to join The Goodfellows Club.
The effort raised $1,242, and volunteers packed 350 baskets with turkeys, bread, canned vegetables and toys.
The ensuing years saw a broadening of the annual appeal for donors and volunteers to include women and girls, and frequently the project was challenged with with depressions, recessions and wartime distractions. But Cowtown’s generosity never failed to rise to those challenges.
For instance, sharing space with news from the first few months of World War I in the Nov. 4, 1914, Star-Telegram was a notice that the Goodfellows Club’s total was boosted over the $440 mark by a $5 check from the Council of Jewish Women.
At last year’s annual Exchange Club luncheon to benefit Goodfellows, a member matched that amount with a $5 check of his own. He was kidding, of course, and eventually contributed to a record-breaking $150,000 total from the 79th annual gathering.
The Exchange Club members’ donations helped the 2014 Goodfellow Fund reach a total of $878,850. That paid for $50 J.C. Penney gift cards for clothes and shoes for about 19,500 kids, said Richard Greene, the Goodfellow Fund executive director.
This year’s goal is $850,000.
“We anticipate donations will be near the pace of the 2014 campaign and we will serve as many needy families as contributions will allow,” Greene said. “I think this is significant as you look at the continued uncertainty of the economy. Again, it is testament to the generosity of our community and the legacy of our now more than 100-year-old fund.”
To be fair, it must be said that the advent of the Goodfellows project spearheaded by Star-Telegram employees came a year after The Advertising Club of Fort Worth delivered candies, nuts and toys to 500 kids when local charities found their 1911 budgets falling short of children’s needs.
As described 100 years ago in the Nov. 20 Star-Telegram story kicking off the fourth “Christmas distribution” effort: “The Goodfellow movement appeals to no single class. There are no jealousies in the Goodfellow ranks. Every Goodfellow wants the poor kiddies to have their warm clothes and pretty toys and good things to eat before cozy fires on Christmas Day, and every charitable organization in the city, recognizing the good business sense of concentrating, participates in the work of The Star-Telegram Goodfellows’ Club. The jolly crew is mobilizing now. Are you one of them?”
This includes material from Star-Telegram archives.
‘We are Goodfellows’
In 1914, a lyric-writing contest for a Goodfellows Club song included this one from a Remington typewriter saleswoman named Alice Haliburton.
Oh, we are Goodfellows,
For we take good cheer
To the little kiddies
Santa Claus holds dear.
See our banner’s waving
O’er a faithful band
And we say unto you
‘Lend a helping hand.’
These days, you can be part of the “jolly crew” by sending a contribution to Goodfellows, P.O. Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76101. Or go online to goodfellowfund.com and make a credit-card donation. We’ll publish your name in the newspaper in coming weeks unless you ask us not to.
See a list of Goodfellow Fund Contributors, 14A.