With schools closed, the Goodfellows Club has had issues reaching the 1,500 area students they aid annually.

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.

Traditionally, Goodfellows has worked with area family resource centers that identify students in need. But with COVID-19-related closures, that became problematic toward the end of the year, said Barry Carden, former Goodfellows president.

“Typically, we do not operate those services during the summer,” he said. “Obviously we are concerned like everyone else with everything going on. School is starting back later and we want to be prepared for that. We work closely with the schools and the family resource centers. They are our point people that identify need.”

While the organization prepares for schools reopening, they have had to face the same issue that all nonprofits have had, a halt in fundraising. Aside from issues with schools being open, the organization has the very real potential of their key fundraising events not taking place, said Bob Clark, the club’s newly appointed president.

“Right now, we are trying to anticipate what the economy will do to our donor base,” he said. “Luckily the Goodfellows Tennis Tournament will be happening at the end of the month, but we don’t know what will happen with our soup day in November, which is a major fundraiser for us.”

Aside from the tournament and soup day, the annual Roll Call is one of the organization’s major fundraising tools, but with the current climate, even that could be affected, Clark said.

“We anticipate that our donations will be down this year,” he said. “Simply because money is tight and people will not have the ability to donate as they have in the past.”

Typically, the organization is able to set aside $100 to spend per child, but with anticipated fundraising issues, that amount may have to be altered, he said.

“We are expecting an increased community need in the face of less donations,” he said. “Right now we are considering dropping that $100 per child to $75 so that we can continue to serve as many area children as we can without having to turn any of them away. We are anticipating a larger need with a smaller pool to draw from. The future of some of our major events is certainly uncertain so that will most likely leave us with the Roll Call. What will like look like, we don’t know?”

To aid in extending their reach, the organization has joined with MobileCause, he said.

“They work with nonprofits to help get the word out and aid them with utilizing every tool available to connect with more potential donors,” he said. “We have signed up with them and hopefully that will help. For now, we are hoping that things will improve and that we will be able to carry out some of those major events.”

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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