If it hadn't been for a group of women known as both the St. Nicholas Girls and the Charity Girls, the Goodfellows Club would not exist today.

Three days before Christmas in 1911, that group of young women put up a Christmas tree at the old City Hall at Fourth and St. Ann streets and invited the poor children of the community to a party.

They planned for 350 children, but more than 500 came.

The newspaper account said Santa Claus came to distribute "toys, candy, bananas, apples, gloves, stockings, clothing and shoes" to the children in need that Christmas.

Five years and four Christmas parties later, times were still tough in 1916 as Christmas drew near in Owensboro.

Lawrence W. Hager, the 26-year-old general manager of the Owensboro Inquirer, decided to write an article about the St. Nicholas Girls' annual Christmas party.

But what he found was that the young women were now busy with families of their own and had decided to end the tradition.

Hager went back to his office on Dec. 9, 1916, and started to write an article saying that poor children would have no Christmas in Owensboro that year.

But he changed his mind and in doing so, began a new tradition that has continued to this day.

Hager appealed to the people of Owensboro, inviting them to help create a Goodfellows Club that would carry on the Christmas party tradition.

That year, the first Goodfellows Club raised $524.50.

It was enough for three Christmas parties, serving about 1,000 children.

There were three parties because there was no one place in the city then that could hold 1,000 children.

Nearly 70 years ago, the Christmas party moved to the Sportscenter, which has held that many children or more every year since.

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. 5:

Previously reported $24,554.10

In memory of the deceased members

of our families and in honor of our living

members by P.J. and Sarah Hayden ..... $300

In memory of Margaret and John C.

Hayden and Louis P. Wedding and in

honor of Birdie Wedding ...................... $250

In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Paul A.

Bickwermert, Sr. .................................. $100

In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Charles B.

Payne ................................................... $100

William and Esther Jansing .................. $100

In loving memory of Carma Bowman

Eaton by Hugh I. Eaton, Melody,

Barbara, Martin, and Roger ................. $100

In memory of Paul A. Bickwermert, Jr. ... $50

In loving memory of George Collignon,

Jr. by George and Pam Collignon ........... $50

In memory of Lydia Jenkins ................... $25

Total as of Dec. 5 ............... $25,629.10

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