A long time ago, Jolinda “Joey” Loth read a book by a cancer survivor who said her illness was a blessing.
She didn’t understand that at the time, Loth said, but now she does.
Joey, 50, has colon cancer and was featured in the Dec. 8 World-Herald because she received rent assistance from the Goodfellows fund.
That story prompted a barrage of blessings, she said, including $1,500 from a couple whom she’d never met.
The donors, retired Iowa farmers, visited the Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center after reading about Joey to ask how they could help. They wrote the check and a note to Joey, who received treatment at Methodist.
Those people typify the generous readers of The World-Herald. Once again, you’ve pushed the Goodfellows campaign total to a record Christmas Day high of $534,432.75, more than $76,000 over last year’s Christmas Day total.
The campaign had reached $458,225.28 by Christmas in 2012. Last year’s final total was $548,884.65. The campaign’s highest final total was $575,047 in 2009.
This is the sixth consecutive year that donations have exceeded $500,000.
“What an exciting year Goodfellows is having,” said executive director Joel Long. “Generous World-Herald readers are coming through in a big way. To be at this point on Christmas Day puts us in position to possibly set an all-time record at year end.”
Goodfellows gave Joey peace of mind in the middle of an ordeal. She said she thinks it’s important that people can read about donors to the fund and the people who are helped.
“It reminds people when they see those stories to do those random acts of kindness,” she said.
Joey has received other anonymous checks and got hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards from her neighbors. She has gotten greeting cards and has heard from former co-workers — “some very, very generous acts and some very kind words.”
She said she paid a year’s worth of health insurance with the Iowa couple’s donation, and has reserved other funds to help defray expenses when she has surgery next month. She’s not sure she’ll be able to work when she’s having another round of chemotherapy, and she gets paid entirely on commission selling insurance.
Joey plans to send her benefactors a thank-you letter.
The World-Herald would like to thank its readers as well. Your support to Goodfellows allows the fund to provide year-round emergency aid for needy people in the community. The fund also supplies meal vouchers at Christmas and school clothes for disadvantaged children.
“We cannot begin to express how thankful we are of the heartfelt generosity of those who donate,” Long said. “I want our readers to know that we will be mindful stewards of their good will.”
The World-Herald pays all administrative costs, so every penny donated goes directly to those in need.
Several social service agencies help the charity determine whether people qualify for help. The one-time aid is designed to help those who have suffered setbacks get back on track.
Eighty-two percent of Goodfellows donations go to provide the emergency assistance. An additional 6 percent goes toward clothing programs at Holy Family Church’s Door Ministry and the Omaha Public Schools, 10 percent provides Christmas food vouchers and the remaining 2 percent goes toward other aid. This year, 1,274 vouchers fed more than 3,000 family members.
Goodfellows prints a daily list of donations during the campaign, which began in mid-November. Many donors want to be anonymous and many just give their names, but others want to pay tribute to a good deed, a faithful friend or relative or a loved one who has died.
One reader this year, for instance, sent a letter along with her donation. Several Samaritans helped when she was recently in a traffic accident on an icy road. She offered her rescuers a gift, but they would have none of it.
“So, in their honor, I am gifting Goodfellows $200,” the Omaha woman said.
An Omaha couple read a story about a Goodfellows donor who honored the people who cuddle babies in the Methodist Women’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. They mentioned those cuddlers when they sent in $100.
And a couple of readers donated in memory of Dr. Ira Priluck, an ophthalmologist who died in November.
“Dr. Priluck saved the vision in my left eye,” one man wrote. “He was a wonderful doctor.”
Though daily Goodfellows stories end today, you still can donate.
“I hope those readers who haven’t donated yet will come through to push us to a new record. In the end, the real winners will be those additional people that Goodfellows will be able to help,” Long said.
Your generosity will help people like Joey Loth, who said her far-flung siblings rest easier knowing the community is rallying behind their sister when they can’t be here.
“I am so grateful,” she said.
And now that she’s in the middle of it, “with all the generosity and kind words,” she gets what that author meant.
Cancer, she said, “really has been a blessing.”