If the character of a community is measured by its embrace of the vulnerable and disadvantaged, then Kearney residents have done their city proud. As the 2019 Goodfellows campaign concludes this week, the ending tally will fall somewhere north of $68,000.

Confident that will happen, it will make the 2019 drive the fifth most successful in the history of the Goodfellows, which began in the 1940s when Kearney Hub Publisher Ormond Hill suggested to his coffee buddies that they pool their money and see that Kearney’s needy children received gifts on Christmas.

Something magical happened that year, and a holiday tradition was born. There are no records of how much money Hill and his business friends collected from each other, and we also have no idea how many children received gifts from these original “Goodfellows.”

What we do know, after some 75 years of the Kearney Goodfellows, is that it’s an outlet for people who care about the less fortunate and want to do something about it.

Business supporters remain the foundation for Goodfellows fundraising. This year, main street donors provided $19,335 in donations during the Dec. 7 one-day business drive. That money jump-started giving, and thanks to generous business operators, the 2019 drive will conclude as one of the most successful in Goodfellows history.

There are other reasons to count 2019 as a successful year. On Dec. 22, hundreds of volunteers crowded the Exhibit Building at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds to wrap gifts, and on Christmas morning, hundreds of more volunteers helped deliver the gifts.

We know that Goodfellows is doing what it is meant to do because we see the smiles on the faces of children who received gifts because the community came together and supported a good cause. Without a doubt, Goodfellows put a smile on the faces of needy children. In addition, the Goodfellows experience puts a happy heart inside every donor and volunteer because they reached out to help others in need.

As a longtime supporter of Goodfellows, the Hub thanks donors for their continuing generosity and support. Appreciation also goes to the volunteers who roll up their sleeves to solicit support from businesses, and help wrap and deliver gifts.

It’s gratifying to know that some of Goodfellows’ most loyal supporters were at the receiving end as children. Grateful for the happiness they experienced, they now give so that needy children will have a happy holiday.

There is no better measure of our community’s kind and caring spirit than to count the smiles on the 1,200 children who received Goodfellows gifts this year.