Goodfellows may not be one of the community's largest charities, but it definitely stands apart from others.
The World-Herald's charity has a unique ability to act quickly to address a need, Executive Director Joel Long said.
Families facing eviction or the shutoff of utilities reach out to one of Goodfellows' partner agencies, and within days, families can have the help they need, he said.
“One of the things that separates Goodfellows from government or other nonprofit help is the ability to provide assistance quickly. There really is no 'red tape' that has to be cut through,” Long said.
“Our ability to make a rent or mortgage payment in a few days can mean the difference between a family staying in their home or being evicted.”
Every dollar donated to Goodfellows goes to assist those in need in our community. The World-Herald pays all the costs of operating the program.
Long said Goodfellows strives to use its money in the most efficient way and where it will make the greatest difference: by filling gaps for working families who otherwise might not get the help they need. In many cases, recipients don't qualify for aid from other charities; because they are employed, they can exceed income cutoffs.
But a setback of any kind — a major car repair, a surprisingly high utility bill or lost hours at work because of illness — threatens families that are just making it, month to month. The emergency assistance from Goodfellows can get them over the hump and back on track.
Goodfellows partners with a handful of social service agencies — United Way, Heartland Family Service, Catholic Charities and ENCAP — to connect funds to those in need. The agencies assess the situation and Goodfellows cuts the check — to the mortgage lender, landlord or utility, for example — to pay the outstanding bill.
The program began in 1889 as a holiday party for 1,200 needy children. By 1910, when the program adopted the Goodfellows name, the Christmas drive matched children with readers who pledged to provide some holiday cheer.
In the years that followed, Goodfellows provided shoes and clothing to children, free milk, holiday toys, eye exams for schoolchildren and, more recently, emergency assistance.
Today 81 percent of Goodfellows donations go to provide one-time emergency assistance. 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.
Last year more than $550,000 in aid was distributed. In all, nearly 6,000 families were helped, including 1,500 families who received grocery store vouchers.
Long said partner agencies report that funds allotted for distribution each month run out before the month does. He said Goodfellows has seen an increase in requests from people struggling with reduced work hours or unemployment and pinched by high utility bills from summer.
To kick off this year's fund drive, The World-Herald Foundation has donated $10,000. Contributions are accepted year-round, but now through the end of the year, donor names will be printed each day in the newspaper.
Donations may be made online at Omaha.com/gfdonate or sent to World-Herald Goodfellows, 1314 Douglas St., Suite 125, Omaha, NE 68102.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1101, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.