Every December for the past 110 years, Charity Newsies volunteers have taken to the streets of central Ohio to sell a special edition of The Columbus Dispatch to help children in need.

Michael Burrell, this year's Charity Newsies' newspaper-drive chairman, said 500 to 600 volunteers will sell newspapers Dec. 8 at 80 locations.

"Some start at 7:30 or 8 a.m. at Easton (Town Center)," Burrell said. "The traffic starts at 10 a.m. when the stores open up. We'll stay out until we sell our newspapers out. That could be until 2 or 4 in the afternoon."

This is the 111th year for the newspaper sale, with all the money collected going toward the purchase of new school clothes for children in Franklin County.

Last year, more than 13,000 children received new clothes thanks to the group, along with a voucher for shoes at Payless shoe stores, according to Burrell.

Burrell, a Gahanna resident, said he can remember the first year he sold the newspapers.

"That traffic seemed like it was going 100 mph," he said. "I was at Cemetery (Road) and Mill Run. Then you have the weather, from snow to rain or a mixture. But we're out there until the job is done."

Burrell said he has been with the organization since 2010.

"You have to have a passion to want to help individuals who are less fortunate than yourself," he said. "And it just really strikes a great note when you are helping."

Veteran volunteer

Westerville's Don Lund, 92, has been a Charity Newsies volunteer for 64 years.

"I got started when I worked at a printing company, Pfeifer Printing Co.," he said. "One of the men there was a Newsie and I got interest in it.

"Pfeifer Printing sponsored a table at one of the dinners. I went and saw what they did and wanted to get into it."

Lund said the group's mission is that no child shall be kept out of school for lack of adequate clothing.

"What keeps you going is the little kids who get their clothing," he said. "Many of the kids want to wear their coats home. The whole theme now is keeping the needy children in school to get an education. They can go to school and not be embarrassed by their clothing, and have a good winter coat and clothing. It's rewarding. We get notes from the kids."

Lund said the idea for Charity Newsies came about in 1907, at a restaurant at Broad and High streets in Columbus.

"A newsboy was trying to sell his papers and men in the restaurant saw how cold he was," Lund said. "They had him come in and (they) sold his papers to people. These three men sent him home with the amount of money they collected."

Lund said the businessmen started talking about other people who were in need of coal, food and clothing.

"They went out on a Sunday in December before Christmas (with a special edition of the newspaper) and collected money," he said. "I think they collected $700. They used that for food and coal and clothing (for needy children)."

And that's how the Charity Newsies originated, according to Lund.

"I haven't belonged quite that long," he said. "There are four or five of us in our 90s."

Lund said he hasn't sold newspapers on the street the past two or three years.

"While others are selling, six of us older members divide the city into quadrants and go out in the afternoon," he said. "We meet at 11 or so and we visit Newsies widows and members who are homebound."

He said the membership has increased from 200 when he joined to about 600.

Lund said the group is always looking for young, enthusiastic people who might want to join.

"We would be glad to have them come and see the operation to see what we do," he said. "Our headquarters is at 4300 Indianola Ave. in Columbus.

"We used to start the day after Labor Day (for the clothing drive) but now, with school opening in August, we take applications at libraries the first of August."

Friendly competition

As the newspaper-drive chairman, Burrell said, he is privileged to take bundles of extra papers all over the city.

"We have 52 to 55 corners," he said. "If we could recruit more Newsies, we could be at more corners."

Burrell said there is a lot of pride in how much volunteers collect at every street corner.

"We collect change in people's ashtrays, all the way to $100," he said.

"Some bring us checks. We collect it all. Every penny helps."

Burrell said the children have big smiles on their faces when they receive their new clothing at the group's headquarters.

"When you look at them, it's like Christmas early for them," he said. "Our value (for clothing) is $150 per child."

That amount will completely outfit a child with outerwear, undergarments, shirts, pants and shoes, according to the group's website.

"When the parents go to the library (to register), they're given a time and an appointment to get their clothes. They get a date and a time to do this," Burrell said.

He said recipients must live in Franklin County and must have a demonstrated need.

In addition to the day of the newspaper drive, Burrell said, donations can be made online at charitynewsies.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla