The day members of the Goodfellows Club of Owensboro look forward to every year has finally arrived.
At the Owensboro Sportscenter, the tables have been stacked high with presents and other goodies. Inflatables are pumped up and ready for use. Also, there's a rumor that Santa is heading that way -- not on a sleigh, but on something with considerably more horsepower.
The Goodfellows Christmas Party, a tradition that dates back more than 100 years, will turn the Sportscenter into a giant Christmas party for anywhere from 800 to 1,000 children. After children's activities and a Christmas program, the invited children will line up to choose a toy and receive a variety of other items.
The children are selected to attend the party by the schools. All parents can't afford to give their kids a full Christmas on their own, and Goodfellows is there to provide for those children who otherwise would receive very little.
If a child wouldn't have much of a Christmas, "we want to make sure to fill that gap," said Major David Powell, the Owensboro Police Department's support services supervisor and a member of the Goodfellows board.
Barry Carden, president of the Goodfellows board, said the club buys popular new toys in bulk to make sure enough are on-hand for the party.
"We don't want to disappoint a child," Carden said. This year, the club is also giving away about 20 new bicycles at the party that were donated by members of the American Legion and by a donor who asked to remain anonymous. The children will receive tickets and the winners will be chosen by lottery. Carden said.
"It would be nice to provide one for everyone, but it will be the luck of the draw," Carden said.
As big as the party is, it is only one small part of what Goodfellows does.
"Budget-wise, the Christmas party is 10 to 15 percent of what we do," Powell said. Where the club is busiest is in the schools, where Goodfellows provides clothes, coats and shoes to children in need.
Carden said spending on clothes for school children is up considerably this year. The non-profit group has already spent $165,000 on children's clothes since September.
Carden said the total for the year "is going to be $180,000 to $200,000."
Carden said he couldn't say if the Goodfellows Party would be the only Christmas some kids would have, but the party is important to the families that are invited.
"I've got to think it plays a big part of their Christmas," Carden said. "You can definitely see the excitement, so it is adding joy to their Christmas.
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Powell, who has been a Goodfellows board member for about 10 years, said the party is also important to the people who work to make the day special for children.
"The smile on the kids' faces brings me back every year," Powell said.
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.
Goodfellows Roll Call, Dec. 21, 2019
Previously reported … $97,836.56
Anonymous … $300
Albert McGary … $200
Dr. and Mrs. David L. Medley … $200
David and Jayne Jones … $200
In honor of Scott and Kay Richmond
Merry Christmas … $200
In memory of Lucile Annin … $150
Bobby and Deborah Arnold … $100
In loving memory of our son, Logan,
Mom, and all of our family in Heaven
by Sonya and Tony Lockhart… $100
In loving memory of my wife, Judy, my
son, Tom, and all of my family in
Heaven by Ralph Lockhart … $100
Thanks for all you do throughout the
year for the children by Richard Rowe …$100
Office Furniture & Forms LLC … $100
In memory of Eric Dean Emerson by
parents, David and Mary Ruth
Emerson … $50
In memory of my parents, Lois and
Nace Knott, my sister, Martha O'Bryan
Froehlich, and my brother, Billy Knott
by Jim Knott … $50
In memory of Marvin and Nancy
Pedley … $50
In memory of those we've loved and
lost by Jerry and Jan Manaway … $50
In loving memory of my husband,
Bill Banczak … $50
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lee Payne … $40
Jeff and Vicky Hammond … $25
Total as of Dec. 21, 2019 … $99,901.56