Grove City Record

Charity Newsies

Volunteers will hit the streets Saturday

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Among the Grove City and West Side volunteers participating in the Charity Newsies 2014 Drive Saturday, Dec. 14 are (from left): row 1-Paul Hildreth, Fran Siegwardt, Homer Cardle; row 2-Mario Ciardelli and Larry Mitchell. All proceeds will go directly to provide clothing for needy children in Franklin County.

A 106-year-old tradition continues Saturday, Dec. 14, as the Charity Newsies' white-coat brigade hits the streets to raise money for school clothes for central Ohio's children.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., 500 volunteers will occupy 85 intersections throughout Greater Columbus, accepting all donations, whether they jingle or fold, said Shari Carroll, chairwoman of this year's drive.

The effort raises about $500,000 a year for the nonprofit group, with its headquarters in Clintonville, Carroll said.

A separate gala and auction, held Dec. 6 this year, raises another $500,000 or more. Newsies is a strictly volunteer organization, meaning all money raised goes toward helping children, Carroll said.

Newsies provides each child with a hat, gloves, two pairs of pants, two shirts, underwear, socks and a $25 voucher for shoes.

"When kids have new clothes and can walk into school with confidence, they achieve more," Carroll said.

In return for donations, patrons receive a copy of a newspaper that contains "a lot of good, interesting reading about who we are, who we serve and how long we've been around," said Chuck Rundio, Newsies president.

The papers are a good public relations tool for the organization, said Rundio, a 24-year member.

"We try to get them to read it," Rundio said of motorists. "We're only out there once a year, so we're not hounding you all the time."

All officers -- Rundio and Carroll included -- don't collect donations any more. Instead, they check on volunteers throughout the morning.

Still, Rundio said he's charmed by the number of repeat contributors, some of whom have been giving for decades.

"I still have one of my grade-school teachers come around and give us a check," said Rundio, 51.

A man driving a beat-up pickup truck once handed Carroll a wad of bills totaling $400.

"I just teared up and said, 'Thank you.' He just smiled and moved on," she said.

Carroll said Charity Newsies takes applications from the end of August through January.

The group also has opened up opportunities for those seeking help. For eight weeks in the fall, Charity Newsies accepts applications at eight Columbus Metropolitan Library branches.

"Lots of people don't have cars so it saves them the trip to headquarters," she said.

Children who have been selected to participate are invited to the warehouse on Indianola Avenue, where they can choose their own clothes.

"We make it a shopping experience," she said.