Since its founding in 1916, the Goodfellows Club of Owensboro continually made the idea of a merry Christmas possible for children in need throughout the local community.

Founded by Messenger-Inquirer Editor Lawrence Hager, the club’s charitable endeavors are preserved in the newspaper’s archives.

With the 2020 Christmas season setting a new fundraising record of $186,015.18, the groups early years during the 1920s saw much smaller — but still all important important monetary donations that would allow club members to purchase Christmas gifts for underprivileged children in Owensboro.

The Saturday, Dec. 24, 1921, edition of of the Messenger-Inquirer reported that $1,200 had been raised to purchase gifts for the children as the first year of the decade came to a close. Adjusted for inflation, that number is equivalent to about $18,542.28 in 2021 dollars.

“Old Santa will begin his distribution of presents at the Plaza this morning when the Inquirer’s Goodfellows Club will hold its annual Christmas entertainment,” the newspaper reported.

Despite the rations and limitations due to the Great Depression and World War II, the Goodfellows Club continued on with its charitable giving as the decades wore on.

The Tuesday, Dec. 12, 1944, issue of the Messenger-Inquirer said that $451.46 had been raised to date that year. The latest and lone donation mentioned in the Roll Call in the issue is for a $1 donation made by Lee Clark of McCulloch Avenue. That number had climbed to more than $3,600 by the time Roll Call closed on Christmas Eve 1944.

“This is a wonderful showing by Goodfellows,” the Messenger-Inquirer reported Dec. 24, 1944. “It has made possible a glorious party on Christmas morning — tomorrow — and has augmented the reserve fund for the furnishing of shoes to underprivileged boys and girls, a Goodfellows activity that is carried on 365 days in every year.”

In 1944, the annual Goodfellows Christmas party was hosted at the Hotel Owensboro in the hotel’s lobby and Georgian room.

During the party, a donated Christmas tree, “resplendent with lights, tinsel and yule trappings,” awaited the arrival of local children to receive their presents.

As the post-war years of the late 1940s became the age of the space race in the 1960s, the tradition of the Goodfellows continued on.

The Messenger-Inquirer reporting on Monday, Dec. 3, 1963 that, “the symbol of Goodfellows in Owensboro has been a huge tree, lighted and standing as a reminder of the annual Christmas party tree. By then, the party had been moved to the Owensboro Sportscenter, where it still occurs each year.

Messenger-Inquirer staff writer Ed Shannon reported that Christmas Day that more than 2,200 children were guests at the Godfellows of Owensboro annual Christmas party in 1963.

“Children of all ages, all sexes and all modes of dress, gathered at the Sportscenter to receive gifts, toys, candy, oranges and apples.”

Contributions to the Goodfellows Club can be mailed to or dropped off at the newspaper office, 1401 Frederica St. Owensboro, Ky, 42301. Donations can also be made online at goodfellowsclubofowensboro.org/contribute. Or, text RollCall to 41444.

Goodfellows Roll Call, December 2, 2021

Previously reported … $10,476.83

In honor of Dr. T. Roger Humphrey, Sarah M. Humphrey, Mr. and Mrs. J.H.

Kotheimer, and all our brothers and sisters who have passed … $500

Jerry Morris … $250

In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Henry

Ralph, and Mr. and Mrs. W. LeRoy

Hayden by Donald and Carol Ralph … $100

In loving memory of Herman and Anna

Royal, Effie Hawkins, Clarence and

Lessie Ford, and Icie Trogdon by

Sharon and Patsy … $100

Janice Goodwin … $25

Total as of December 2, 2021 … $11,451.83

Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, nhavenner@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-228-2837

Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, nhavenner@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-228-2837

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