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Old Newsboys Day fundraiser set for Dec. 7

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Old Newsboys Day is struggling to survive, while still trying to help the north country’s needy families receive support year round.

Volunteer coordinator David L. Bonney said volunteerism for the event has been decreasing the past few years, and it’s getting harder to recruit fresh faces each year.

“It’s the same every year; we don’t have enough help,” he said. “I don’t know how much longer the program can exist. I tried a few new industries, but nope.”

The 66th annual Old Newsboys Day is set for Dec. 7. It is one of the Salvation Army’s largest fundraisers, second only to the Red Kettle campaign. Sponsored by the Watertown Daily Times, participants sell copies of the newspaper for anywhere from 75 cents to hundreds of dollars.

Funds raised from Old Newsboys Day go toward the Salvation Army’s Christmas efforts and for baskets of food for a traditional holiday meal. Through the effort, needy children will find presents under their Christmas tree and food on the holiday table. Any leftover funds will be used to help with the agency’s children and adult programs throughout the coming year.

In an effort to help attract more groups to volunteer their time Dec. 7, the Times is again sponsoring a contest in which the group that raises the most money will win an iPad and the equivalent of a full-page advertisement in the Times.

Mr. Bonney said only two groups participated last year, so he’s hoping another call to local civic organizations will bring out more volunteers.

“You have to have the passion,” he said. “I’ve got the same industries, and so far, I’ve got the same standby sellers. I could use probably at least 15 people out at the mall alone.”

Mr. Bonney, who has been a part of Old Newsboys Day for about 35 years, said despite advertising and word of mouth, no new volunteers have come forward.

Last year, the agency was worried Old Newsboys Day wouldn’t fare well, yet it raised about $31,000.

John B. Johnson, general manager of Northern New York Newspapers Corp., publisher of the Times, said the company is excited to work with the new leaders of the Salvation Army this year and is “lucky to have a solid foundation to build upon.”

“We broke our previous record with last year’s performance and already this year, the strong support at the Fireball Run has made a real impact,” he said. “I’d like to thank all the participating service organizations, our volunteers and especially Mel Busler. These folks are the ones that really make this fundraiser happen, and we are truly lucky to have them as active partners.”

Groups or people interested in volunteering may contact Watertown Salvation Army Lt. Summer Hough by calling her at 782-4470.

Lt. Hough said that while the agency is in desperate need of volunteers for the event, she has faith the Watertown community will pull through.

“I’ve never seen it happen like this, where a community raises this much money in one day,” she said.

She said she and her husband, Lt. Zeb Hough, have a simple goal to make the Salvation Army better. Lt. Summer Hough said that is not possible without the support of the community.

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