A young newspaper editor named Lawrence W. Hager
was assigned to write a story.An organization called The Charity Girls had sponsored Christmas parties for needy children in Owensboro since 1911, but the organization was disbanding because the members were settling into marriages and raising families.Hager
, then editor of the Owensboro Inquirer, and later editor of the combined Messenger-Inquirer, decided not to write a story about the end of Christmas parties for poor children.Instead, he
decided to start his
own.Christmas for children, he
said, and no child should be forgotten at Christmas..
The Goodfellows Club was born that day in 1916, and the newspaper has kept this tradition alive for 81 years and counting.
Today as then, the Goodfellows Club annually provides a Christmas party with toys, candy, and fruit for needy children.Invitations to the party are issued to children from a list submitted by school administrators.Usually there are approximately 2000 children in attendance.
Past laureates include : the late Roy Burlew, owner of the former Kentucky Lamp Company and founder of the Ken-Rad Corporation (now MPD) ; William M. Elmer, former Chairman and CEO of Texas Gas Transmission Corporation ; the late Charles E. Field, founder and former owner of Field Packing Inc. ; Morton Holbrook, senior partner of the law firm Holbrook, Sullivan, Mountjoy and Stainback ; William H. Thompson, founder and chairman of Thompson Homes ; and Lawrence Hager
, Sr., former publisher and editor of the Messenger-Inquirer and founder of Owensboro Publishing and Owensboro Broadcasting.