The Sweetwater Goodfellows were started by four Rotarians in approximately 1929. The Goodfellows have gone through many changes over the years. Today their mission is “to provide food and toys to needy families with children and food to needy individuals during the Christmas season.”
In 2010, the Goodfellows expanded the program to include all of Nolan County instead of just Sweetwater. They also assist all the nursing homes in Sweetwater by providing gifts to each resident in need and the National “Angel Tree” program through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for children that live in Nolan County and have one or more parents incarcerated.
This year, over 700 people in Nolan County have applied for assistance through the Sweetwater Goodfellows for toys and food, according to Sweetwater Goodfellows President Billie Johnston. "We are in great need of donations this year as they have started slow this year."
This year's Goodfellows toy drive will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Wal-Mart. The Goodfellows are currently low on toys for 4-9 year-old children, both boys and girls, and 10-16 year-old boys as well.
Anyone donating during the toy drive will receive a free hot dog. Monetary donations will also be taken at the toy drive. Local Girl Scouts will be helping organizers hand out flyers at the toy drive. Sweetwater Fire Chief Grant Madden will also have the Sweetwater Fire Department's ladder truck on display at the event. KXOX will also be broadcasting live from the event.
For those who can’t make it to the toy drive, Sweetwater Goodfellows boxes for food and toys can be found at KXOX Radio, First Financial Bank, Nolan County Courthouse, Higginbotham (Radio Shack), Sweetwater TA, Sweetwater Reporter, Oak Street Salon, SLJ Embroidery and Gifts, Texas State Technical College and all local schools. Donation of food and toys can also be dropped off at the fire station on Broadway. Financial donations can be sent to Sweetwater Goodfellows, P.O. Box 1148, Sweetwater, TX, 79556. Firemen will be picking up the donations as needed and the boxes will be out until Wednesday, Dec. 5.
The Sweetwater Goodfellows distribution will be from 9-11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at the Lamar Street Baptist Church recreation building. A Christmas party with Santa will follow distribution for the children from 3:45-4:45 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at Lamar Street Baptist Church (only for families with children). Set-up for the distribution will take place at 5 p.m. each day on Tuesday, Dec. 4, through Thursday, Dec. 6, at Lamar Street Baptist Church, located at 513 Lamar Street.
The Sweetwater High School National Honor Society assists in the preparation each year along with many volunteers. Through the community's generous donations, the Goodfellows are also able to assist the Nolan County Food Bank and the Sweetwater/ Nolan County Assistance Center with donations.
The current officers for the Sweetwater Goodfellows are Billie Johnston, President; Ken Becker, Vice-President/ Treasurer; and Aubrey Turnbow, Secretary. The Goodfellows organization is under the umbrella of Sweetwater Improvements Inc., a 501-c3.