What evolved into the Goodfellows Club actually began three days before Christmas in 1911, when a group of young women known as both the St. Nicholas Girls and The Charity Girls 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 and more every year since.

Donations can be made to Goodfellows Club, Messenger-Inquirer, Box 1480, Owensboro, KY 42302, by bringing contributions to the newspaper office at 1401 Frederica St. or online at goodfellowsclubofowensboro.org/contribute/.

Goodfellows Roll Call, Dec. 2, 2017

Previously reported … $42,734.15

In memory of Deanne “Sweetie”

Flaherty … $100

In memory of Milton S. Wimsatt .. $100

In memory of my husband, Tom

Howard by Elaine Howard … $100

A friend … $50

In memory of Silas Burns, Bill

and Golda Fulkerson, and Louis

and Mary Agnes by Marlene

Burns … $50

Anonymous… $19

Total as of Dec. 2, 2017 … $43,153.15

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