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Published: 3/26/2005

Charity is old news for Toledo Goodfellows

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Richard Buchholz is the historian for the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association, begun in 1930 to help needy children. Richard Buchholz is the historian for the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association, begun in 1930 to help needy children.
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

It's a question heard daily years ago on street corners and outside shops around the Toledo area: "Buy a paper, Mister?"

But newspaper boys have been replaced by newspaper boxes.

And the query once posed long ago to sell the news is now the annual plea of the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association, who flood area businesses and shopping centers during the Christmas holiday season collecting money for charity.

The association was begun by newspapermen, who collected donations in exchange for papers full of tidbits about the organization.

Today, the men and women of the Old Newsboys come from all walks of life, but have the common goal of helping provide shoes and coats for the neediest children.

It's an organization with a purely charitable history. It's an organization that has helped people in the Toledo area for the last 75 years.

"We've given over $8 million away. Eight million dollars, that's a lot of change," said organization historian Richard Buchholz, who is celebrating his own 75th birthday this year. "This organization is so well thought of because we give all the money away."

The first official Old Newsboys collected nearly $4,000 in December, 1930, said Mr. Buchholz, who scripted the organization's history in a booklet now for sale.

But it wasn't until 1931 that the group began selling newspapers to raise money for charity.

A former Blade newsboy who later earned his way into the position of director of circulation was the originator of the idea to hold an annual newspaper drive.

At the height of the Depression, Raphael "Ray" Kest began a crusade to provide for the less fortunate - particularly children - through a group he help found, the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association.

It was the group's philosophy to help first, ask questions later. Mr. Kest and fellow Newsboy Joe Gallon were known to call all kinds of associates, at all hours of the day, to line up food, clothing, or coal for those in need.

The ideals of the first Newsboys continue today, said President Jack Renz, Jr. All of the organization's nearly 500 members are volunteers, he said. And every penny collected throughout the year is given to charity.

Over the years, that amount of money has grown to about $200,000 a year. In 2003, the group raised more than $210,000 through its charity newspaper sales, an annual golf outing, and private donations.

"It's a commitment we've made based on need. The Old Newsboys have never said no," said Mr. Renz, 36, the organization's youngest president. "If we're told there's a need, by a police officer or a teacher, then we find a way of getting it taken care of."

Photographs in past issues of the Newboys' charity papers show children lined up with the new coats and shoes they were given. Today, donations allow the organization to give vouchers to students from 81 area schools, including Head Start and charter schools, as well as help provide a holiday dinner for about 500 families.

The group is successful because it often enlists the help of others, Mr. Buchholz said. Supplies and time are donated, he said, even a room serving as an office in the basement of the Jefferson Center, home to the Toledo area Head Start program. It is there, down the stairs from playing children, that Mr. Buchholz has set up photographs, newspaper articles, and collages chronicling the organization's history.

It's a history that members are proud of and one that belongs solely to the city of Toledo, Mr. Renz said.

"It's a responsibility that we've had as an organization to this community for 75 years," he said. "It's never difficult raising money when somebody hears what it is we do and how we do it."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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