On December 15, 1947, representatives of the American Legion Auxiliary, PTA Council, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls and the American Red Cross held a meeting in order to organize the Goodfellow Shoe Fund. The purpose and goal of the group in 1947 continues to be the same in the year 2001: to provide preschool and school-aged children in North Platte, Nebraska, who are in need, with good, sturdy shoes. The group originated with eight individuals. On January 7, 1948, they had received $731.05 in donations and their expenditures were $301.57. They had purchased 47 pairs of shoes. The average cost for a pair of shoes at this time was $4.90.
Throughout the years, the Goodfellow Shoe Fund has achieved great things. The annual drive is held from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Special efforts are made in fundraising and reminding the community of the importance of giving to help fellow mankind. They keep the community well informed by printing contributions in the local newspaper. Donations and memorials are accepted throughout the year. Due to their volunteering efforts and the community’s generosity, more than 15,000 pairs of shoes have been given to children in North Platte.
The Goodfellows take an innovative approach toward solving one of the community’s needs. Families are able to fill out an application at Health and Human Services. The president or representative picks up and screens the applicants for financial need. The president then contacts a buyer who makes contact with the family and meets the family at the designated store.
Store employees know the purchasing restrictions and bring out a selection of shoes that the child may try on and choose from. The buyer fills out the designated paperwork and the child leaves the store wearing a new pair of leather tennis shoes. There is no monetary transaction at the time of the purchase. The child must leave the store wearing the shoes so that there is no possibility of returning the shoes for cash. The treasurer then receives the sales slips from the stores so that the accounts may be paid. The president and treasurer keep a running file of the families assisted. The 2000 Annual Drive raised $20,165.92. The current average price for a pair of shoes is $43.57, which allows for approximately 462 pairs of shoes to be purchased.
The Goodfellow Shoe Fund is currently comprised of 40 members. They are a Volunteer Station for the community’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and work with RSVP to promote volunteering through adults among the community, including the retired and senior population in North Platte. The publicity of the annual drive and the impact of the organization keep the volunteers and community motivated. The volunteers comment on how grateful and happy the children act when they walk out of the store with a brand new pair of shoes. The program is structured with tact and compassion and does not degrade the individuals in need in any way, but offers kindness and generosity to those who may otherwise have to go without.