You've done it again, readers. And we thank you.
With a total reported today of $458,225.28, Goodfellows has shattered the Christmas Day record by more than $18,500.
The $439,704 total on Christmas Day 2011 had been the highest Christmas amount in Goodfellows' history.
“We are wowed by the generosity of The World-Herald readers,” said Goodfellows Executive Director Joel Long.
Although the daily stories about Goodfellows recipients have ended, the holiday campaign continues through the end of the year.
The 2012 campaign has a ways to go to top the $575,047 overall record, set in 2009. Last year's final tally was $516,135, the third straight year that the Goodfellows drive surpassed the $500,000 mark.
“We certainly hope to be over the half-million level again by the end of the year — and to top last year's mark,” Long said. “The demand keeps growing and we hope the donations continue to grow, too. We see so many situations where the one-time boost that Goodfellows can provide sees people through a tough time and gets them back on their feet financially.”
The emergency assistance is available year-round. Goodfellows also provides food vouchers at Christmastime and clothing for needy children during the school year.
With The World-Herald paying all administrative costs, every dollar goes to those in need. “We take the responsibility of our readers' dollars very seriously in putting the money to the best use,” Long said. “We are grateful to all of our readers who help make this possible.”
The World-Herald charity partners with local social service agencies to identify needs, especially immediate needs. Goodfellows can move quickly to cut a check to a landlord or utility company so the person in need can just as quickly get back on track.
Eighty-one percent of Goodfellows donations go to provide the one-time emergency assistance; so far this year that aid totals more than $360,000. An additional 8 percent supports clothing programs at Holy Family Catholic Church's Door Ministry and in the Omaha Public Schools, and the remaining 11 percent provides food vouchers at Christmastime. This holiday, 1,468 vouchers were sent to feed a total of 4,835 family members.
By publishing a daily list of donations during the holiday campaign, Goodfellows allows people to not only help neighbors in need but also offer a salute, thank you or remembrance to friends and loved ones.
While the bulk of the messages accompanying donations are memorials, sometimes the memories are more happy than sad, as in the case of this gift of $226 that appeared in the Dec. 18 list:
“In memory of Homer, Dixie, Sarah Jane, Doodly, Pete, Suzie, Jack, Joseph, Agatha, Emily, Spud, Max, Puma, Fauno, Gilligan, Smokey, Steven, Hannah Oceana, Peppermint, Bobo, Mary Ann, Wanda, Lady, Rose, Dallas, Uncle Charlie and Pop, by anonymous.”
That list has grown gradually since the donor, a 68-year-old Omaha man, began giving annually to Goodfellows about 20 years ago.
“When I started giving, my parents and my wife's parents were living, so I didn't have anyone in particular to give in memory of,” he said. So the first 24 of the 27 names on this year's list belong to animals — in particular, animals that belonged to his children and their friends on the block in midtown Omaha where he and his family used to live.
“There were 18 kids and eight to 10 dogs and a vacant lot they all used to play on,” the donor said. His list covers “all the dogs, a couple of guinea pigs, a few cats and a gerbil.”
In recent years, he has appended humans who had passed on: Dallas, a deceased friend; Charlie, his favorite uncle; and, most recently, his father.
His annual gifts usually fall between $125 and $200, and he said he makes sure they end in a number other than 5 or 0 so his memorial gets its own paragraph in the donor list.
He expects to keep giving to the charity “just because it's Goodfellows.”
We thank him. And all of you who donated.
World-Herald correspondent Todd von Kampen contributed to this report.
Goodfellows provides assistance to thousands of families each year. It has raised and distributed nearly $10 million since 1945. With The World-Herald paying all administrative costs, every dollar donated to Goodfellows goes directly to disadvantaged families – helping them with one-time urgent needs, providing holiday meals and providing funds for clothing, shoes and coats. Click here to learn more about Goodfellows.
Click here to donate to the 2012 drive, or mail your contribution to:
World-Herald Goodfellows Charities, Inc.
1314 Douglas St.
Omaha, NE 68102
To contact Goodfellows, call 402-444-1388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.