In 1957, the late Duncan Bauman, of the old Globe-Democrat, had an inspired idea to help St. Louis children’s charities. Bauman, who would later become the Globe’s publisher, wanted to create a fundraiser that united businesses, high school students and volunteers throughout the city. St. Louis embraced Bauman’s dream, and Old Newsboys Day has raised more than $11 million for children since its debut.
Eagle Bank CEO Michael Walsh chaired this year’s Old Newsboys Day and has childhood memories of the event. “My dad was an Old Newsboy for many years,” Walsh explains. “He volunteered for the charity through General Motors and a variety of dealerships that he worked for here in St. Louis. When I was a kid, waiting to be picked up for school, I would watch him walk out of the house in the pouring rain, or snow and sleet, to volunteer his time every year.” Walsh has carried on the tradition, serving as a volunteer and board member. This was his first year as chairman. “It’s a two-year commitment,” he explains. “So I will have the opportunity to be involved next year, as well. It’s truly a joy to work with the volunteers, the board members—everyone.”
Although Old Newsboys Day is an annual event, the organization is active throughout the year, Walsh says. “That Thursday morning that we are out there selling the papers? We’ll raise about $130,000 to $140,000 that day, but that is really the end result of the process. There’s a huge amount of effort that goes into this, beginning in January, when we start soliciting businesses, community leaders and civic organizations for financial support.” Corporate backing for the effort is key, he adds. “I have probably made 40 to 50 personal calls on behalf of our organization, and I have always felt very welcomed. That’s a great statement on the benevolence and generosity of this community.”
Still true to the original mission, Old Newsboys Day benefits children by distributing funds to more than 200 chosen charities each year. “They go through a grant application and interview process, and we choose from those applications. And I’m very attracted to the fact that the charities are held accountable. They are required to submit evidence that they have used the money appropriately, in the fashion it was requested.” There’s very little overhead in the organization, Walsh adds, estimating that 85 to 90 cents of every dollar goes directly to the charities.
Although the final numbers have not been tallied, Walsh says this year’s totals from Old Newsboys Day are about 20 percent higher than last year. “That was our goal,” he says. “We probably raised almost $700,000 and we sold out the special edition. I got calls from several ‘corner captains’ because they sold out so quickly, and wanted to know if they could get additional copies.”
Walsh has two sons and hopes they carry on the family tradition. “I’m confident that they have seen how much fun it is! Even though I’m on the board and we don’t get to spend a lot of time on the corners, I really enjoy getting out in the street and yelling, Paper for children’s charities! It’s especially gratifying when someone rolls down their window and you have a chance to tell them what Old Newsboys is all about.” One curious driver promised to volunteer for next year after hearing about the cause, Walsh adds.
“What I really like is when we’re standing on the corner, and you can see the special edition on the dashboards of cars driving by. It’s kind of like a passport. Here’s my paper—I’ve done my community duty! I always give them a thumbs up, because it’s really neat to see that paper in the windshield!” LN
On the Cover: A St. Louis tradition since 1957, Old Newsboys Day has raised more than $11 million for children’s charities. For more information or to volunteer, call 314.744.5780 or visit
http://oldnewsboysday.org">oldnewsboysday.org. Photo by Jason Mueller. Cover design by Dawn Stremlau