SIOUX CITY | Nearly a century ago, a Sioux City Journal reporter stumbled across a ragged little boy and his sister standing in front of a department store window. It was Christmastime, and the boy had tears running down his face.
He knew none of those goods would be given to him or his sister, Tina. The reporter, whose name has been lost to time, bought the siblings each a pair of mittens and went back to the newsroom, where he couldn’t get the children out of his mind.
He spoke to the city editor about the youngsters gazing longingly at the toys in the window. Ordered back to his typewriter, the reporter shared the story with Journal readers in hopes of collecting contributions to host a Christmas party for Sioux City’s underprivileged children.
A tradition was born out of that dreary December day in 1914, as recounted by Willis Forbes in a 1965 booklet about the history of Mr. Goodfellow and the Yellow Dog Auction Club. Forbes joined the Journal in 1916 and stayed with the newspaper for 46 years. He died in 1972.
“Goodfellow Charities has been blessed to have dedicated people from the Journal staff continue the charity’s mission for 100 years,” said Steve Griffith, the current president of the organization.
To aid the Journal’s charity fund, a bellboy at the Martin Hotel founded the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dogs, also known as the Grand Growlers.
Worth Waltermire recruited members, charging 25-cent dues to join the fraternal organization.
In 1936, Ray Murphy and Rodney Dean, two on-air personalities for KSCJ, went to Waltermire with a plan to sell a dog through a radio auction. The three found a dog at the humane society. Skippy sold for $25.
The following year a rescue dog named Mike brought in $200 from the proprietors of a pool hall. After the dog and his new owners appeared in the newspaper, a little boy showed up at the parlor, sobbing, “You’ve got my dog Midget and I want him back.”
Wax Nelson and John Kampmeyer returned the dog and bought the boy some clothes, according to Forbes’s history of the Little Yellow Dog.
Eventually, the Sioux Valley Kennel Club annually donated a pedigreed dog, and now, each year a regional kennel or individual donates a purebred puppy for the auction.
Stoney, the 2011 Little Yellow Dog, brought in a record-breaking bid of $45,000. The yellow Lab was named after the late Don Stone, a longtime supporter of the charity and chairman emeritus of the board of directors.
Proceeds continue to benefit the Journal’s Goodfellow fund to provide books and toys to underprivileged children during the Christmas season.