The World-Herald and United Way of the Midlands announced a new partnership on Wednesday to run the Goodfellows charity.

The newspaper has been operating Goodfellows since the 1890s, offering aid to area residents who need emergency assistance with rent or utility payments. It also has offered holiday meal vouchers and provided hats, coats and clothing for schoolchildren.

The World-Herald will continue to write stories about donors and clients, and United Way will raise program money and invest it back into the community. Goodfellows donations will be managed separately and invested in accordance with Goodfellows guidelines, officials said.

United Way will take an administrative fee, but donations will not be mingled with other United Way funds.

“By partnering with United Way, we’re expanding our reach and providing assistance to even more people in the community,” said Julie Bechtel, World-Herald president and publisher.

The coronavirus outbreak has ramped up the need for efforts such as Goodfellows, said Shawna Forsberg, president and CEO of United Way of the Midlands.

“Since the start of the pandemic, as many as 23% of Nebraskans have missed a housing payment or weren’t confident they would make next month’s payment,” she said. “Nonprofits are providing three times the amount of food over the previous year, and nearly 10,000 people have reached out to our 211 Helpline seeking utility assistance.”

Goodfellows will continue to work through a number of local nonprofits to distribute aid. United Way’s 211 helpline has been one of those agencies for some time.

Since it was founded, Goodfellows has invested more than $16 million into the community. Last year, the program provided emergency aid to more than 12,000 people, distributed more than 2,000 grocery vouchers and gave wearable items to nearly 6,000 kids.

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