The World-Herald’s 2018 Goodfellows campaign raised $703,183 to help struggling people in the Omaha area.

But when you count the intangibles, it made much more.

It made connections between generous people and companies and their hurting neighbors, and provided the people who were helped with relief and peace.

It helped contributors pay tribute to friends and loved ones with mentions in the daily donor list in the newspaper and at

And it helped people honor deceased friends, co-workers and relatives with contributions in their names.

Although the campaign raised about 7 percent less than in 2017, Executive Director Sue Violi said she was thrilled with the response.

“That’s still an amazing amount of money to be raised just by our community,” she said.

Goodfellows raised a record $755,554 in the 2017 campaign.

Every cent of the funds donated to Goodfellows goes directly to those in need. The World-Herald has paid all administrative costs since creating the charity more than 100 years ago.

That’s rare among nonprofits, Violi said.

In the 2018 campaign, 1,930 people, groups and businesses gave to Goodfellows. The largest donation was $37,000 from the Carl Riley Brodersen Charitable Trust, and the smallest was $1.07 from Kirk Jarvis. Donations came from 20 states.

Violi said she thinks that donors responded to stories during the six-week campaign about those who have been helped. The Christmas Day story about recipients was especially poignant for readers, she said.

“It could be you, it could be me, it could be your neighbor across the street,” she said.

Stories about donors also resonated. One man gave in honor of his late wife because she had received a doll from Goodfellows when she was a child.

Another donor sent a note about what happened after the story of her gift ran in The World-Herald. Rosemary Whittaker and a friend donated in the name of another friend, Ana Ochoa, 99, and dedicated the gift to restaurateur Nick Petrow, who is like a son to Ochoa.

“I gift-wrapped the article and delivered it to Ana,” Whittaker wrote. “I watched as she slowly read every word. When she had finished, she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said ‘Thank you very much, my dear.’ ”

Another letter came from the family of Royce Reit, who worked as a graphic artist at The World Herald for 36 years. He died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in August, and the family gave $178 to Goodfellows in honor of his 78th birthday year.

Reit regularly attended an annual concert by the Pathfinders, a barbershop quartet, that benefits Goodfellows each year.

The event is one of several ways The World-Herald and its employees support Goodfellows. Other fundraisers and contributions this year included a Christmas tie contest for staffers; a sale of books sent to the newspaper; and a donation from members of the Omaha World-Herald News Guild, the union that represents many newsroom staffers.

Violi also coordinated the creation of a Goodfellows ice cream at eCreamery, with a portion of the sales going to the charity, and organized an after-work fundraising event with the Carolyn Scott Rainbow House.

She speculated that the economy and new tax laws may have contributed to the decline in donations.

Goodfellows provides one-time emergency aid to people who are in a bind, as well as holiday food vouchers and back-to-school clothing for kids.

“This is a wonderful charity for people who find themselves in crisis … hopefully enough to get to the place where they can support themselves,” Violi said.

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.