The Kenosha Christmas Charities, Inc. (The Goodfellows) is committed to serving families with children in need in the Kenosha County area. Each year, the Goodfellows provide toys, food, and winter outerwear to over 3,500 children during the holiday season.
During the Great Depression of the early 1930’s, Ralph S. Kingsley, publisher of the Kenosha News, along with a small group of prominent businessmen, industrialists, and professional people realized that there was serious need in the Kenosha area. Many families needed assistance during the holidays especially at Christmas time. They founded the “Christmas Basket Fund,” later renamed The Goodfellows.
Mr. Kingsley brought together numerous civic leaders including Charles Nash (Nash Motors), Jessel B. Whyte (MacWhyte Co.), Chris Hyslop (Barden’s Department Store), and Martin Winther (Dynamatic), to name a few. Willis H. Schulte, then circulation manager and later president of the Kenosha News, spearheaded the forming of the organization. Each of the members made financial contributions and solicited others in the community to provide financial assistance.
Following the Depression, The Goodfellows recognized that there was an ongoing need to provide assistance to children in the Kenosha area. In the early years The Goodfellows purchased toys, candy and fruit and put them in a basket to be delivered to boys and girls up to the age of 13.
As the need increased, The Goodfellows expanded the fund raising effort to include the Kenosha community at large. And as expected from the people of Kenosha, they responded.
Traditionally on the first or second Tuesday in December, The Goodfellows hold a fundraising event to help provide the resources to meet the needs of children in the Kenosha community. That tradition continues today.
In recent years, nearly 400 people have attended the fundraising event. Merchandise and services donated by local businesses are auctioned and raffled to raise funds to purchase the coats, toys and food for the needy children. Our newer grassroots fundraising through the Kenosha News and the website makes it easy for all Kenoshans to take part with large or small donations.
In the early 1990’s a group of organizations was asked to help with the distribution of the coats, toys and food. These local organizations were already serving people in the Kenosha area. This “Holiday House Team” was created to assist in reaching the specific children in need. Women and Children/s Horizons, Goodwill Industries, Inc., Southern Lakes Credit Union, Kenosha County Dept. of Human Services, Shalom Center, Community Action Agency, Kenosha News, R.S.V.P., UMOS and the Urban League of Racine & Kenosha, Inc.
The late publisher of the Kenosha News, Howard J. Brown, summarized our calling well with the following statement:
"Those who contribute to the less fortunate recognize that man is a fragile creature buffeted by the winds of fate. Behind the mirth and merriment of the Kenosha Christmas Charities is a sensitivity to the human condition and the realization that donating to the disadvantaged is, indeed, giving of one’s self to one’s self."
"For there are few activities more gratifying than serving humanity. To be a Goodfellow is to strive for understanding and to enjoy giving."
–Howard J. Brown