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Posted Nov 17, 2015

November 17 – The Goodfellows

11-17-15-George Kepple

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

George Kepple, a city editor for the Houston Chronicle published this request in a 1912 issue of the Chronicle:

 There is joy in life – for most of us. But some have burdens that are almost greater, and sadder, than we can bear. And those of us who find life easy, and love easy, and a fireside happy and cheery when the day’s work is done, should pause.

The Christmas season is at hand. Let us link our hands in warm friendship. Let us seek out the less blessed. Let us be brothers of brothers. Let us be Goodfellows. Let us plant the seeds of cheer where cheer has not grown before.

You are needed, good reader, and blessings await all who answer your appeal. Be with us.

Kepple had observed two children in ragged clothes staring in a shop window just before Christmas. When he learned that their family was impoverished, he passed the hat among his colleagues so that the children and their parents would have food, warmth, and Christmas cheer. He also asked the community to help. Thus began a long tradition of Goodfellows, who sold special edition newspapers and raised funds to assist the poor at Christmas.  The tradition continues today in Detroit with Old Time Newsboys.

For approximately 30 years, between 1940 and the mid-1970s, volunteer firefighters in Troy raised funds as Goodfellows. They sold special edition papers each year and used the funds to help local families in need, providing them with baskets of food, home heating oil, and even completing home repairs. When a resident needed a roof fixed or a foundation repaired, the volunteers pitched in and supplied building materials and willing hands.

Today other organizations including Troy People Concerned, which was established in 1974, provide this assistance. However, the volunteer firefighters at Station 6 have reinstituted the tradition of buying gifts for families in need and hosting annual Christmas parties for them.

Photo:

George Kepple

 

Sources:

https://goodfellowshouston.org/history#.VkTStb9je2A

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Goodfellows-aims-to-brighten-holidays-in-tough-1781136.php

Fire Calls and Station Stories, by Loraine Campbell and Fred Barnard, 2009

Phone interviews with retired Chief Jim Halsey and Station 6 Chief Joe McKay

 


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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