The year 1912 ended with America divided, after President Woodrow Wilson won the presidency in the wake of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Bull Moose” third-party split.
Days after an ugly election — with Tarrant County solidly on the winning side — the Star-Telegram asked readers to come together for children.
“Join Star-Telegram’s Good Fellows Club and Make Xmas for Poor Kids,” the front-page headline read on Nov. 29, 1912, beneath news of Serbia mustering troops against Austria for the First Balkan War.
“Is there enough of the true spirit left to make hundreds of kiddies happy this Christmas?” the unsigned announcement asked.
“The Star-Telegram will organize a Good Fellows Club for the purpose of spreading Christmas cheer.”
A real estate agent gave the first gift. Claude Hays of Fort Worth kicked in $10.
“There are no rules for joining the Good Fellows,” the Star-Telegram Editorial Board wrote the next day.
“There is only one bar against membership: No one can join who doesn’t expect to enjoy giving something to make a real Christmas.”
No matter whether your candidate won or lost, Christmas is the time to put braggadocio or resentment aside.
The Goodfellow Fund is 20 percent behind last year’s online donation pace, and we will need every gift to help provide $50 in school clothes or shoes for 16,000 low-income children.
The most generous donors, civic clubs and foundations have been more generous than ever, including the record $161,000 in gifts from business leaders of the Exchange Club of Fort Worth.
But the number of smaller gifts is off by about one-sixth this year. Fewer readers are giving, at a time when more children are in need.
The Goodfellow Fund had to close applications at 16,000 children. That means we need to raise about $800,000.
Each $50 gift pays for another gift card valid for school clothes or shoes, something to help a child dress suitably when the bell rings in January.
We’ve never added this up. But in the 105 years, the Goodfellow Fund may have helped as many as 1 million Tarrant County children.
They grow up to become our schoolteachers, police officers, firefighters and some of them grow up to become our business leaders and government officials.
Help us give Christmas to the next generation.
Send a donation to Goodfellows, Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76101. Or go online to our secure website, goodfellowfund.org.