Contemplating how to raise $1 million for charity in challenging economic times could be daunting, but Michael Walsh describes the effort as rewarding and fun. Currently in his second year as chairman of Old Newsboys Day, Walsh, the CEO of Eagle Bank, appreciates the enthusiasm of sponsors and volunteers. “There’s tremendous energy and support for what Old Newsboys accomplishes in the community,” he says. “Last year we brought in several new sponsors, and every one of them has renewed their support for the upcoming year. That’s very satisfying, but what’s really rewarding is when they tell us, You delivered what you said you would. We had fun! What more could you ask for?”
The 2011 Old Newsboys campaign begins July 20, with a kickoff party at The Ritz-Carlton Wine Room. “The kickoff event is always a great evening!” Walsh says. “It’s an opportunity to thank our past sponsors and help new sponsors become engaged in the organization.” This year’s fundraising goal, Walsh adds, is $1 million—one of the highest ever—for the more than 200 local children’s charities served by Old Newsboys. “We believe it’s very attainable. There’s tremendous generosity in St. Louis!”
Most often associated with the annual event that features volunteers at street corners, the organization is active year-round, Walsh explains. “Our board members solicit community leaders, businesses and civic organizations. For some of our charities, the money we provide is their entire budget for the year. Without us, they could not survive. And what they manage to do with the money is amazing! It’s like the loaves and the fishes—these charity directors can take $5,000 and somehow stretch it into $50,000 for children and families.” The need is great, but the requests are sometimes heartbreakingly simple, Walsh explains. “So many of these children don’t have the most basic necessities, like clean underwear and socks, or a toothbrush—things you and I just get from a drawer in the morning without thinking about it.” The charities fill diverse needs throughout the community. “It might be an organization that works with the Division of Family Services, perhaps to remove a child from a dangerous situation. They’ll provide the child with a backpack, school supplies or whatever they might need. It’s remarkable what they do and how many people they reach.” Charities are chosen after an application process, he adds. “We review their application to see what their needs are, where the money will be used, and what the impact will be. And every organization we choose is held accountable.” Last year, more than 500 charities applied to Old Newsboys for funding.
The July kickoff party is an opportunity to learn more about Old Newsboys’ past successes and future goals. “Come hear the stories from past volunteers, and from the recipients of the dollars we raise! The evening is designed to create a passionate and intimate connection to our proud history,” Walsh says.
And, of course, to have fun. “If you’re having fun doing something, don’t your friends want to do it with you? It’s just like Tom Sawyer—come join us at the white picket fence!”
On the cover: Since 1957, Old Newsboys Day has raised more than $11 million for local children’s charities. This year’s campaign kickoff event is July 20 at The Ritz-Carlton Wine Room. For more information, call 821-1110, ext. 107 or visit oldnewsboysday.org.