Good Fellow/Argus Santa Fund puts smiles of Biblical proportions on recipients' faces

Originally Posted Online: Dec. 08, 2012, 10:45 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 08, 2012, 10:59 pm
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By Leon Lagerstam

MOLINE — A King James version of a talking Bible recently put a king-sized smile on the face of Dispatch Good Fellow and Argus Santa Fund recipient Thomas Wood.

''Tom was grinning big and couldn't wait for that Bible to get charged up so he could use it,'' said Elmer Peel, diaconal chairman at First Baptist Church in East Moline.

Mr. Peel had nominated Mr. Wood, 68, and his wife, Debbie Wood, 52, for special holiday help from the newspapers' annual campaign, and had the fun of delivering the goodies.

Mrs. Wood got a new, sturdy four-wheel walker she wanted, so she can do some walking, instead of getting around only in her power wheelchair. The new walker also comes with a seat, ''so if I get tired, I'll be able to sit down and rest for a while,'' she said.

''I'm going to have to get used to it, but it's going to let me walk again,'' Mrs. Wood said.

''Tom is losing his eyesight, and can't read his Bible anymore,'' according to the submitted nomination form.

''We both have COPD, and he's in the hospital a lot,'' Mrs. Wood said. ''He's also got diabetes, which has taken his eyesight. He thought a talking Bible would be good to get, because I'm not always able to read it to him. He's so anxious to use it, but it's got to charge 10 hours first.''

"Debbie's pretty happy with her walker, too,'' Mr. Peel said.

"It's wild blue,'' Mrs. Wood said. "I was surprised. I didn't think I ever had a chance of getting it, because of the price, and because I've never won anything like that.''

"It's a great deal,'' Mr. Peel said, referring to The Dispatch Good Fellow and The Rock Island Argus Santa Fund.

"It means someone cared enough to think of someone else who doesn't have enough to make it through the holidays,'' Mrs. Wood said.

The Woods basically are invalids, living in what was an old hotel, and have no car or way to get around, and money's not too good in their case, Mr. Peel said. They used to attend church, until their health got too bad.

But helping other people is an interesting habit to have, he said.

"I'm sure God played some part in it, too,'' Mrs. Wood said. Or at least His word did, which Mr. Wood can hear loud and clear now.

For 105 years, The Dispatch Good Fellow and The Rock Island Argus Santa Fund has helped make the words ''Merry Christmas'' ring truer and clearer for people such as the Woods, but the holiday campaign needs your help this year.

This season's goal is $40,000. To date, $8,370 has been raised, leaving $31,630 to go.

Last year the fund helped 360 families with 909 children, plus another 260 low-income seniors and disabled people.

Donations from area residents, businesses and civic groups are sought to help provide holiday gift cards for families to buy food, clothing and other necessities, as well as toys for children who might otherwise get nothing for Christmas.

There are four easy ways to donate:
-- Make a secure donation online at
-- Send a check to Good Fellow, c/o Dispatch/Argus, 1720 5th Ave., Moline, IL 61265.
-- Use the drop box in the Dispatch/Argus lobby, 1720 5th Ave, Moline.
-- Use the drive-through window at the circulation office at the corner of 6th Avenue and 18th Street in downtown Moline.

In addition to selecting families for special holiday help, the newspapers will rely on 12 area agencies to help identify people most in need and assist with distributing the gift certificates.

The agencies are Aldridge Early Learning Center, Bethany for Children & Families, Child Abuse Council, Boys & Girls Club of the Mississippi Valley, Just Kids Early Care & Education, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Project NOW, Skip-a-Long Child Development, InTouch Adult Day Services, Rock Island County Senior Center, Illinois Division of Rehabilitation and ARC of the Quad-Cities Area.

Donations are only used for special holiday assistance, and not for everyday agency programs.

The newspapers' promotion department coordinates the program. Administrative costs are paid by The Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.

The Argus Santa Holiday Fund was established in 1908, followed by the Dispatch Good Fellow in 1912. The programs merged in 1987 when The Dispatch bought The Rock Island Argus. The fund is recognized as a 501 (c) (3) charitable corporation by the IRS.

Contributors' names are published in weekly updates in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Recent contributors are:

List of recent donors

In loving memory of Marjorie DeSmet, $85
In loving memory of Leona Qualls Daymude, $85
In loving memory of  Cecil Qualls, $85
In loving memory of Jane MacCall DeSmet, $85
In loving memory of Henry DeSmet, $85
Dennis and Joan Nelson, $100
Friends for Verschoore, $100
James and Willa Feldman, $20
In memory of Chuck Heriford, from Joan, $25
Blondell Plumbing Service, $100
Don and Jan Sheesley, $100
Moline Kiwanis Club, $300
In memory of my 'two' dads, Robert L. Doonan and Floyd A. Miller, from Patti Doonan, $40
Anonymous, $100
Paul and Sheila Guse, $200
In memory of Paul Unruh, from Marlys Unruh and family, $50
Jeannette Tedell, $20
In honor of my grandchildren, from Melanie Banfield, $50
Anonymous, $100
Larry Martel, $100
Shaun and Victoria Graves, $150
In loving memory of Frank and Martha Hagerman, from Donna, Tony, and Cathy, $50
Betty Johnson, $25
In memory of Tony, from Margie, $50
Jim and Carol Horstmann, $50
In loving memory of Larry McCarthy and Lex Gober, from Stormy McCarthy, $50
From the 3rd Tuesday Bridge Group, $80
In loving memory of Merle Lage, Sandy Lage and Sandy Kilcoin, $50
In special memory E.H.M., $25
Anonymous, $50
Howard and Mary Sand, $25
From Tony and Judy, $25
E Marie Norlen, $35
In memory of Steve Hardin, $100
The Gab, $30
From Santa, $25


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana.
1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.

(More History)