Waco GoodFellas’ Christmas in July raises record-breaking $200,000

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A local nonprofit started by a handful of men looking to spread Christmas cheer with a hundred bucks nearly 30 ago, has now raised more than a million dollars and got a huge shot in the arm over the weekend when nearly 2,000 guests raised a record breaking $200,000 at the Waco GoodFellas’ annual Christmas in July fundraiser.

“I got teary eyed Saturday night to look out and see a crowd of 1,700 people. It’s just very, very humbling,” said founding member and Waco businessman Randy Crook.

Crook said he still remembers in 1994 sitting at Diamondbacks restaurant in Waco talking with Dwayne Densman, who passed away in 2017 after a more than decade-long fight against cancer, about trying to help the less fortunate at Christmas.

“We both grew up poor,” Crook said. “So, we said ‘let’s put 100 bucks out there and buy some toys. Let’s ride around neighborhoods and pass some stuff out. We spent those 100 dollars, and the next year four or five others threw in a hundred dollars.”

Every Christmas the list of those needing help grew but so did the volunteers with the organization.

The Waco GoodFellas today consists of 40 men and one woman. Former Miss Waco Jamie Blanek, who lost her leg last year while trying to help stranded motorists on the side of the road, was made an honorary Waco GoodFella.

Thanks to lots of financial support and willing volunteers, the group has helped many.

They’ve provided laptops to Waco ISD students and given clothes to families in need. They’ve helped with home repairs, appliances and shelter for numerous families. If they see a need, they answer the call.

“One year a kid said ‘the only thing I’ve never had is a bed,” Crook recalled. “I said ‘well that’s over.’ We went to the furniture store and got a bed.”

Crook said that little boy grew up and recently returned to the Salty Dog Sports Bar and Grill in Waco, which Crook owns, to thank him for the gift that changed his life as a kid.

The Waco GoodFellas biggest fundraiser is the Christmas in July event and this year, the proceeds shattered every expectation and record.

“I would like everyone to know our 17th Christmas in July was record breaking,” said board member Brian Schronk. “We raised over 200,000 this year. We would like to thank our McLennan county friends. Without y’all this would not be possible.”

Crook said the fundraiser was unlike anything he’d ever witnessed. One gentleman, he said, spent in the upwards of 100,000 at the audible auction.

“The money was flowing like I’ve never seen before,” Crook said. “I’ve never seen people spend money like that before.”

The Waco GoodFellas says thanks to the success of the fundraiser, they’ll be able to help around 400 kids this Christmas.

If you know someone in need, you can contact the Waco GoodFellas on Facebook to submit a nomination.

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