When it comes to brightening Christmas for impoverished children, the Good Fellows Good Samaritans campaign faces two sobering realities: The need has been growing. The support has been dropping.
The 105-year-old charity, which The Advocate and its related publications have supported since its inception in 1914, hopes to turn around the giving part of the equation this year, said Steve Huggins, GFGS treasurer and a partner at the Hannis T. Bourgeois CPA firm.
“We’re doing everything we can,” Huggins said. “We’re out trying to raise some funds. We have been somewhat successful in getting funds we have not had in the past. The majority of our revenues have always come from the public. … That has been continually decreasing over the years.”
Last year, GFGS served just over 1,000 children, who are selected by public school guidance counselors in East Baton Rouge Parish. That, however, was about one-fourth of the identified need, Huggins said.
“We ask the guidance counselors to get us the neediest of the needy children, and they actually make that determination,” he said.
Donations provide a sweatsuit, age-appropriate toy and book for each child age 12 and under. The cost is about $25 per child, Huggins said.
This year, Huggins anticipates GFGS will serve up to 1,400 children, but he wants to help more.
Ten years ago, 2,500 children received Christmas gifts from the group. When Higgins began working with GFGS in the late 1980s, it was able to provide gifts to every identified child, as many as 3,000 in the early 1990s.
The charity has been able to pick up some corporate support, but an increase in public donations is needed to serve more children, Huggins said,
“We ask them, ‘Could you have used more?’” he said. “We know the answer.”
Donations may be made at sunriserotarybr.com, click on the "donate" link.