Families lined up at Holy Family Catholic Church as early as 6 a.m. Saturday , with a line stretching around the block by 9 a.m. when the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Omaha’s annual Back-to-School Basics Giveaway began.
Lillian Miranda of Omaha lined up at about 7 a.m. She has attended the event for the last three years. Miranda said it’s a great help for her and her three daughters — Emma, Raquel and Cristina — before school starts.
“We also have a lot of medical bills that we have to pay, and this is a blessing,” she said. “Literally, it’s like $60 falling from the sky.”
St. Vincent partners with Goodfellows, The World-Herald’s charity, to provide families with vouchers to purchase socks, underwear and other back-to-school clothing. Each child receives a $20 voucher, redeemable at two Target locations.
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Volunteers handed out the vouchers at Holy Family, 1715 Izard St. St. Vincent organizes the event, and Goodfellows provides $20,000 in funding.
Bonnie Beacom, the program’s coordinator, said this year’s event helped 336 families and 1,154 students — 154 more than usual.
Goodfellows has partnered with the program for several years. The charity helps metro-area families in one of three ways during the year: one-time emergency financial assistance, vouchers to purchase a child’s clothing and vouchers for holiday meal groceries.
“We do a lot of the work (for this event), but having the resources to distribute to the community, that’s where they come in,” Beacom said of Goodfellows. “It’s the donations that people make that allow us to respend where the needs are in the community.”
Beacom said St. Vincent works with both Target locations to track how many vouchers are spent. Whatever isn’t spent will be used to purchase diapers for the society’s food pantry.
Marty Smith, St. Vincent de Paul’s executive director, said this was the first year the events had a whole group of former volunteers working.
“I do think that certain events develop that sort of cache where ‘This is what we do every year,’ ” he said. “So obviously the people who are volunteers get a lot out of it as well.”
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In 1938, Omahans created “Mile o’ Dimes” to raise funds for The World-Herald’s Goodfellows charity. Board members behind the effort are pictured here.
Ray Messler on Dec. 15, 1938.
Goodfellows donors Burdock Fredericton and Brownie Walters made up the Cornhusker Orchestra in 1939.
Betty Litman and Ed Reinhardt on Dec. 1, 1941. Rotary Cleaners had a "Good Fellows" kitty for whenever an employee lost his temper and said something he shouldn't.
Officers of the Foreign Wars contribute to the “Mile o’ Dimes” for The World-Herald’s Goodfellows charity as “Miss Goodfellows” looks on.
Children gather to sing carols for the Goodfellows fund in 1944.
Bill looks at pictures of toys in a catalog.
Members of Beta Sigma Phi, a non-academic sorority, donate to Goodfellows in 1945.
Bill, pictured here in 1945, is a beneficiary of The World-Herald's Goodfellows charity.
On Dec. 7, 1947, two boys look forward to Santa's arrival.
Members of the Omaha Knights hockey team donate to The World-Herald’s Goodfellows fund in 1948. The charity started in the late 1880s and has raised more than $16 million since record-keeping began in 1945.
Gloria and Alfred write a letter to Santa Claus on Dec. 21, 1950.
Linda waits for Santa Claus on Dec. 3, 1951.
A Goodfellows Christmas card from Nov. 14, 1952.
Kenneth and his little sister look at toy ads.
Mary meets Santa Claus on Dec. 7, 1958.
Employees at the South Omaha Post Office urge people to donate to Goodfellows in 1962. From left, they are are John Cupich, Ray Meloccaro and Postmaster John Munnelly.
Restaurateurs Ross Nisi and Eli Caniglia, with two young friends, celebrate a donation to Goodfellows in 1963. The gift was from The Strip Association, a trade group made up of people who ran restaurants on 72nd Street from Dodge to Center Streets.
Pinky, a Nebraska Kennel Club champion, delivers the club’s $200 donation to Goodfellows in 1964.
Mrs. Max Sacks and Mrs. Mike Montello from The World-Herald's Goodfellows charity fill a bag held by Mike Montello, Sokol Lanes manager, dressed as Santa, on Christmas Day, 1966.
World-Herald employee Tim Daughtery accepts donations from James Wightman, Alan Johnson and Michael Henderson from the Gene Eppley Boys Club on Dec. 20, 1967.
From left, Mrs. David Brown, Mrs. Francis Walker and Mrs. Donald Rose, a brigadier and director of Women's Services for the Salvation Army, celebrate the opening of the Salvation Army and the World-Herald Good Fellows Toy Shop. Each day until Christmas, parents of needy families may select gifts for their children. Parents coming to the shop at 1561 Capitol Ave. must demonstrate need. Photo from an edition of The World-Herald on Dec. 21, 1972.
Jermaine, pictured here on Nov. 24, 1982, is one of the beneficiaries of The World-Herald's Goodfellows organization.