The Owensboro Sports Center was filled to the brim on Saturday for the 104th annual Goodfellows Club Christmas Party.
Amid the sea of activity, bikes, stuffed animals, Mr. Potato Heads, board games, sharks, fire trucks, balloon animals, sports cars, books, Transformers, bouncy castles, motorcycle Santas, basketballs, superheroes and Disney princesses were on display in honor of one very special group, the children of Owensboro-Daviess County.
In 1916, Lawrence Hager of the Owensboro Inquirer began serving impoverished Owensboro children at Christmas. More than 100 years later, Hager's organization, known as the Goodfellows Club, continues to provide for needy children. The 103-year-old organization provides clothing, shoes, coats and emergency dental and medical care -- year-round -- along with a December Christmas party for children in need. All of the money raised each year goes to help children; there are no administrative fees.
To aid in overseeing the party, members of Goodfellows along with Owensboro Police Department, Owensboro Fire Department, Owensboro High School and other organizations joined in handing out presents, monitoring the bouncy structures and just generally sharing in the wonder designed to give some of the community's at-risk children the most memorable Christmas possible. In reality, if you have never been to a Goodfellows Christmas Party, you won't know what to expect, said Bobby Grant, a captain with Owensboro Fire Department.
"A lot of people in the community often comment that the party isn't what they expected," he said. "We get it from members of both the fire and police departments as well. They don't know what to expect. This party will surely get you in the Christmas spirit. It allows members of the community to see us not in an emergency setting and understand that we are here to help and serve them is any capacity we can, it is important for us that they know that."
Aside from an opportunity to spread some Christmas cheer, the party also allows the community to see another side of law enforcement, said Owensboro Police Chief Arthur Ealum.
"Agencies across the country participate in community events like this and those things aren't shown as much in the media, but we do it all over," he said. "We are happy to be a part of it. The kids love it, we love it and it is a mutually beneficial way for us to engage our community, especially this time of year for kids that may not have a Christmas, so it is always a fun event."
To add to the magic of the party, Owensboro High School's Theater Department, the Rose Curtain Players, joined in on the festivities dressed as some of the children's favorite Disney princesses and superheroes. The department has been a part of the party for more than 20 years, said Carolyn Greer, high school theater teacher.
"We bring about 50 current students and alumni out every year and we dress in costume to give children the opportunity to meet their favorite characters," she said. "The great thing is, for many, this is their Disney, this is their Christmas, this is their big celebration. It is so important to show that we are more than just a theater program, we want to be involved in this community and give back. My whole family is involved, for us, this party is the beginning of Christmas."
While the selling point of the party is centered around providing gifts and memories for the area's children, in reality, it is so much more than that. It is an opportunity for everyone in the community, young and old, to come out, lend a helping hand or just sit back and be reminded of the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child.
Goodfellows Roll Call, December 22, 2019
Previously reported … $99,901.56
Ebelhar Whitehead PLLC Soup Day
for Kids… $600
Anonymous … $500
In memory of Louise and Bill Embry … $250
In memory of Betty and John Yager … $250
In loving memory of Thomas L. and
Richard J. Payne by the Payne
family … $100
In memory of Raymond and Laura Bell
Gilmore, John T. Mardis, Karen
Gilmore, and Bradley Oliver by Dorothy
O'Flynn … $100
In memory of William R. O'Flynn by
Dorothy O'Flynn … $100
In loving memory of Patricia, Mom and
Pop Basham, Doug, Jeanette, and
Jeanie by Faye … $50
In memory of Glenn and Maxine Gary
by the Vincent family … $25
In loving memory of my precious
husband, David Vanover. Missing you
and remembering our wonderful times
of Christmas together. Merry Christmas
Honey. All my love, yesterday, today,
and forever , Peggy… $20
In loving memory of John, Martine,
Jimmy, Charles, Kenneth, and Gene
Vanover, and Tommie and Gladys
England by Peggy Vanover … $20
Total as of December 22, 2019 … $101,916.56
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, email@example.com