A statue created by internationally recognized sculptor and Bexley resident Bruce Hanners to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the Charity Newsies is scheduled to be unveiled during a ceremony at 10 a.m. June 15 at the corner of Broad and High streets downtown.
"It's such a good cause," Hanners said. "It's been a tremendous journey."
Charity Newsies began in 1907 when three Columbus businessmen -- George Baker, Harry Shunk and C.C. Philbrick -- saw a little boy trying to sell newspapers at Broad and High. They helped to get him out of the cold and took his papers to sell, which they did with shouts of "It's all for charity," according to charitynewsies.org, the organization's website. They gave the money to the boy so he could buy warm clothing and sent him home with more than he had ever seen, according to the site.
Later that year, on the Sunday before Christmas, the men gathered acquaintances so 50 businessmen could take to the streets to sell more newspapers to help more children.
More than a century later, the Charity Newsies members have become known for dressing in white coveralls the second Saturday of December to sell special edition newspapers around Columbus. The organization also conducts a variety of fundraising activities year-round to raise funds to provide new school clothes, including outerwear, undergarments, shirts, pants and shoes. Since its inception, the organization has helped more than 500,000 children in Franklin County, according to the website.
Last spring, Bexley resident Tom Beck spearheaded an initiative among his fellow Newsies members to raise funds for a public art installation that would commemorate the organization's 110th anniversary.
The idea for the sculpture rose from talks within the organization "to do something spectacular with our heritage, the great relationship that the Charity Newsies have with the residents, the public of Columbus and Franklin County," Beck said. "They like what we do and we rely on their donations to be the motor of the organization."
Heck helped to form a committee to call on the more than 600 Charity Newsies members to donate their own money and to recruit other private donors. The committee ultimately raised $35,000 for the statue.
"Not one penny of clothing money (set aside for schoolchildren) was ever spent on this project," Beck said.
"It all came from donations."
Hanners, who lives near Beck in Bexley, said donating his time to create the sculpture was an easy choice -- even though doing so required him to turn down assignments from prospective clients such as the Academy Awards and the creators of the Oscar-winning Disney movie "Coco." Hanners said the Charity Newsies sculpture is close to his heart since he volunteered for the organization while attending schools in the Bexley.
"The project for me was just a natural, whatever they need and however it's got to be," Hanners said.
A lab technician in fine arts and sculpture at the Columbus College of Art and Design, Hanners has been working on the sculpture for the past several months in a space at the college's downtown campus. He has even embedded vintage editions from newspapers such as The Columbus Dispatch and the now-defunct Columbus Citizen-Journal into the materials.
Hanners said the assistance of CCAD facilities manager Casey Bradley and students Paige Stanonik and Leigh Lotocki has been invaluable in the process.
Hanners said several CCAD students, upon finding out about the project, said they've benefited from the Charity Newsies' mission.
"One artist ... said, 'They're the best. I got great coats from them when I was a kid,' and it just hit me, it really hit me," Hanners said. "Everybody that I've met that's been a recipient has been really overwhelmed by the organization."
For more information about the Charity Newsies and the statue unveiling, visit www.charitynewsies.org.