This year, 75 is the magic number for Old Newsboys Day.
For one thing, the nonprofit is celebrating the 75th birthday of chair emeritus Lou Brock. Brock, along with his wife Jacqueline, has been a solid supporter for the past 20 years, notes campaign chair Scott Niekamp, wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual. In his honor, Old Newsboys will make a $7,500 contribution to the Lou Brock Scholarship Fund at Lindenwood University. And to cap it all off, it has set a goal of raising $750,000 for area children’s charities through this year’s campaign—which would be a record-setting mark if it’s reached. “We’re pretty confident that we’re going to get to that goal,” Niekamp says.
Founded in 1957, Old Newsboys Day is a project spearheaded by Suburban Journals to support at-risk children throughout the St. Louis region. Each year, its annual fundraising campaign culminates in a day where volunteers take to the streets around town, selling a special edition of the newspaper to support grants to area nonprofits that support children’s causes. “We’re what you would call the last resort for most of these organizations,” Niekamp says. “They come to us for grants for things that kids put their hands on—from undergarments to toothbrushes, or linens or pajamas to sleep in. There isn’t any executive overhead or real estate, so all of the funds go to things that kids use on a daily basis.”
For example, Lift for Life Gym was founded by Marshall Cohen as a weightlifting program to offer constructive after-school activities for kids from low-income families. “He was trying to figure out a way to get kids off the streets, and he started by buying one piece of gym equipment at a time,” Niekamp says. “Each year, we give them a grant to buy an additional piece of equipment to attract more kids.”
The grants range from $3,000 to $5,000, which in some cases, contributes up to 25 percent of the nonprofits’ budget, Niekamp says. And it’s because of Lou Brock’s vital help in raising awareness for the cause that Old Newsboys Day is paying him special honor this year, Niekamp adds. “Lou is this magnet of attention in St. Louis, and, thank God, he is one of those people who has trouble saying no! He goes above and beyond and has been doing it for decades. We’re fortunate to be one of those organizations he spends a lot of time with—and the relationship is irreplaceable.”
To help Old Newsboys Day reach its goal, Niekamp urges companies and nonprofits who are interested in making a difference in local children’s lives to consider sponsoring a corner on Old Newsboys Day. “They can take a corner and sell newspapers on that Thursday before Thanksgiving. We’d like to consider more nonprofits for their own grants, and there’s no better way to let people in the community know you’re doing your part to help out!”