Cody Martin is not about to cut any corners.
The New Albany resident said for the first time, he would proudly represent Charity Newsies during the 112th anniversary of the organization’s first newspaper sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14.
About 350 volunteers collect cash and coins at 59 intersections throughout central Ohio in exchange for a special edition of The Columbus Dispatch newspaper.
Martin had not been assigned a street corner where volunteers in white coveralls ask motorists for the financial contributions, but he would go wherever he is needed, even if calamitous weather strikes, he said.
“Nothing’s perfect in life,” said Martin, 25. “The people we’re trying to help are experiencing way worse in life. A little discomfort is not going to discourage me.”
Martin will become a third-generation volunteer for Charity Newsies, headquartered at 4300 Indianola Ave. in Columbus’ Clintonville neighborhood.
His father, Jeff Martin, is vice president of the organization and this year’s drive chairman.
Jeff Martin, 52, said his duties require him to appear in radio and TV interviews, so he is precluded from being on the street.
“I do miss it,” said Jeff Martin, a detective for the Columbus Division of Police.
Jeff Martin, who has been with the Newsies for 22 years, said he braved the elements for two decades to help provide clothing for children in grades K-12.
“It’s amazing,” said Jeff Martin, a 1985 graduate of St. Francis DeSales High School. “For the most part you recognize a lot of faces, regulars who come back year after year.”
Jeff Martin’s late father, Kenny, was in the Newsies for 32 years and his brother, Casey, has been a Newsie for 17 years.
Cody Martin wants to add to that legacy.
“It’s just one of those things,” Cody Martin said. “It’s a family tradition. It’s a good organization to volunteer for. They do great things there.”
The newspaper sale netted the Charity Newsies $401,000 last year, all going to the mission of providing $150 worth of clothing – three pairs of pants and shirts – or school uniforms, a hat, gloves, a winter coat, socks and underwear to a child, said Mike Miller, manager of the organization’s headquarters.
Charity Newsies serves 12,000 to 14,000 children each year, Miller said.
The organization’s website recounts its history:
“The Charity Newsies were founded in 1907, when on a particularly cold and blustery day in 1907, a ragged newsboy stood on the corner of Broad and High hawking his papers. ‘Paper! Paper! Get your paper,’ he cried. From inside a restaurant, three men watched as people sped by the young boy, barely noticing him.
“The gentlemen reportedly felt sorry for the young man, brought him inside where it was warm and took his papers. With cries of, ‘It’s all for charity!’ they sold every paper for as much as they could and sent the boy home with more money than he had ever seen and enough to buy warm clothing.
“As the men walked away from street corner, they felt their excitement quickly fade as they realized how many other local school children there must be without proper clothing. With that, their new mission became clear.
“That same year, on the Sunday before Christmas, 50 businessmen took to the streets with a special edition of the newspaper to sell for charity. That day, the gentlemen raised more than $700 to clothe needy children, and the Charity Newsies organization was born.”
The charity returns 100% of the funds collected to purchase new clothing and sometimes school supplies for children in need, according to organization officials.
The annual gala typically pulls in about $300,000 a year, Miller said. This year’s gala, held Dec. 5 at Villa Milano Banquet & Conference Center, 1630 Schrock Road in Columbus, raised about $200,000, he said. Other fundraisers and donations push the total contributions to roughly $1.8 million annually, he said.
Miller said the number of children helped by the Newsies has decreased in recent years, a trend that happens from time to time. With the strong economy and more charitable organizations throughout central Ohio, fewer people are seeking assistance, he said.
The number of donations at the curbside also has fallen off, something that’s to be expected in the modern age, he said.
“People don’t carry cash as much as they used to,” he said.