Goodwill Gala Supports Helms College

Annual event raises more than $100,000 and showcases talents of culinary students

MACON, Ga. – The 14th annual Goodwill Gala, benefitting Goodwill of Middle Georgia, was held Dec. 7 at the Anderson Conference Center. The event brought together individuals and organizations to raise $100,000 in support of providing scholarships to deserving students for academic and career development programs at Helms College.

The 400 guests at the Goodwill Gala were treated to a menu crafted by the students attending the Helms College Polly Long Denton School of Hospitality, and had a creative menu of specialties from around the United States - from the New England specialty of Lobster-Sweet Corn Salad Canapes with Bacon Jam to the Deep South’s delight of Coca-Cola Glazed Ham.

The event is one of the experiential learning opportunities for the students who designed, prepared, presented and served the menu with guidance from their faculty chefs.

“I know everyone was impressed with the culinary skills of our students showcased at the gala,” said James K. Stiff, president of Goodwill of Middle Georgia and Helms College. “These students are among the 16,000 people Goodwill serves annually who are building new lives through careers that will allow them to experience a greater slice of the American dream.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” was the event theme, designed by Raymond H. Smith Jr. , vice chair of the Goodwill board of directors and president of the presenting sponsor, Smith, Brown & Groover.

The highlight of the evening was the standing ovation during the parade of students across the stage. Guests also were treated to Helms College graduate Brian Rowe sharing his touching story of overcoming barriers and struggling to support his wife and four children and receiving a scholarship to Helms College that changed his life.

Attendees also had their choice of entertainment options, with local favorites Josh Carson and Maggie Carson performing an acoustic set at Edgar’s Bistro, while Atlanta cover band RadioJacks performed dance tracks in the Anderson Conference Center ballroom.

“Our partners, patrons, donors and sponsors provide us with the means to make a crucial and measurable difference in the lives of those we serve,” noted Stiff. “We are helping people find pathways to careers, and the gala is a tangible real-world example of some of the opportunities we’re able to provide Helms College students because of the support we receive from the community.”

Plans for the 15th annual Goodwill Gala are already underway. End-of-year contributions to support Helms College – and any other Goodwill program – can still be made at


About Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia:

Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia, a non-profit, 501c3 charity, builds lives, families and communities one career at a time by helping people develop their God-given gifts through education, work and career services. More than 86 cents of every dollar of Goodwill revenue underwrites job training and placement services within the agency’s 35-county service delivery area. Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia is accountable to local Board of Directors, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company.

About Helms College

Helms College, a private, independent postsecondary career school sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia Inc. and licensed by the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission, offers accredited programs through its two hospitality schools as well as its new School of Health Services. Helms College is an institution of higher education that provides a unique approach to experiential learning and career education. Named in honor of Rev. Edgar Helms, the founder of Goodwill Industries, Helms College creates opportunities for students to discover their strengths and build upon their knowledge, skills, and attitudes through extensive integrative and experiential learning.

To learn more about Helms College, visit