Charity Newsies adds credit-card option to annual collection drive

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Brian Rigg (left) serves as first vice president and 2020 drive chairman for the Charity Newsies, and Mike Miller is the organization's headquarters manager.

With the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus still looming, the Charity Newsies organization will take a much different approach to its annual newspaper sale and collection drive.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 19, the Newsies will scale down the number of collection sites from 54 to 19. And instead of standing at street corners, volunteers will be at strip centers, where they have the new ability to safely swipe credit cards, with a $10 minimum donation.

Donors will drive up – masks are encouraged – and a Newsie, with a mask and gloves on, will swipe the credit card, said Mike Miller, manager of the organization’s headquarters, 4300 Indianola Ave. in Columbus' Clintonville neighborhood.

“One positive thing that’s come of this is we’re going to be able to process credit cards,” Miller said. “We’ve not been able to do that.”

Nevertheless, the pandemic is expected to affect the bottom line of the Charity Newsies’ collection drive, he said.

“Right now, we’re not anticipating doing as well as we’ve done in the past,” Miller said.

Drive-up sites include:

• Graceland Shopping Center, 182 Graceland Blvd.

• Northwest Center, 1890 W. Henderson Road

• The former FrontRoom Furnishings, 940 Polaris Parkway

• Festival at Sawmill, 6262 Sawmill Road

• Avery Square, 6800 Hospital Drive

• Westerville Square, 534 S. State St.

• StoneRidge Plaza, 1309 N. Hamilton Road

• Easton North, 3894 Morse Road

• Town & Country Shopping Center, 3750 E. Broad St.

• Brice Road and East Main Street, 5979 E. Main St.

• Giant Eagle center, 6400 S. Broad St.

• Great Southern Shopping Center, 3773 S. High St.

• The former Kmart store, 2370 Stringtown Road

• The Broadway Center, 3096 Southwest Blvd.

• The shopping center at 5382 Roberts Road

• Georgesville Square, 1625 Georgesville Square

• Kingsdale Shopping Center at the corner of Tremont and Zollinger roads

• Big Lots, 1451 W. Fifth Ave.

• St. Charles Preparatory School, 2010 E. Broad St.

The drive accounts for 35% to 40% – about $460,0000 – of the group’s annual budget, Miller said.

It is the largest fundraiser for the Charity Newsies, which provides clothing for school-age children. Each child gets a winter coat, a hat and gloves, six pairs of underwear, six pairs of socks, three shirts and three pairs of pants. A $150 donation would cover all of that.

COVID-19 has dampened the spirit of the drive somewhat, Miller said. About 140 Newsies, 100 fewer than usual, will be collecting this year, and the precollection breakfast and postcollection party, both held at the headquarters in Clintonville, have been canceled.

“You have some guys who have been on the same corner for years and have their own little tradition,” Miller said.

With the changes, motorists will not see the familiar sight of volunteers dressed in white jumpsuits meandering between cars with large collection buckets, distributing specialty newspapers with the history and mission of the Charity Newsies, which was founded in 1907.

Charity Newsies is a nonprofit organization that got its start after three businessmen noticed a boy in rags selling newspapers on the street, according to its website, charitynewsies.org. The men took his papers and started selling them, telling the crowd it was for charity, the website said.

The men sent the boy home with plenty of money for clothing, and the charity was created to raise money for children in need, the website said.

Brian Rigg, this year’s drive chairman, said the organization had discussed canceling the drive, but board members voted unanimously to proceed with the collection.

The pandemic has caused Charity Newsies leaders to rethink their public-relations strategies by trying to be more visible throughout the year instead of fall and winter, Rigg said.

He said he sees a silver lining in the current collection method, which could continue long after the COVID-19 threat is over.

“This might be the thing of the future for us,” Rigg said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary