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Old Newsboys Day needs more individual, group volunteers

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At the Watertown Salvation Army, the need is great all around.

The need for more food to keep up with the demand for an average daily census of 100 in the agency’s soup kitchen and the need for more arts and crafts supplies and other activities for children to remain focused mean the Watertown Salvation Army needs more support to help meet increased demands of local residents who face daily struggles. Lt. Summer Hough said people can help by either donating to or volunteering for the agency’s 67th annual Old Newsboys Day fundraiser, or both.

On Friday, volunteers within local businesses and industries will raise funds internally, but the agency seeks more volunteer street sellers to generate more revenue from the public throughout Jefferson and Lewis counties. Old Newsboys Day 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 trees 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.

“Volunteers are the driving force behind the event,” Lt. Hough said. “We’re looking for anyone with an hour and a little bit of gumption. Every hour counts.”

David L. Bonney, volunteer coordinator of the event, said there are about 20 street sellers this year — the same number as in 2012.

“Right now, to be conservative, if we had twice more than that it’d be a tremendous help,” Mr. Bonney said. “That’s the age-old problem: we need help in every direction, but more street sellers. Wherever there’s an opportunity for someone to sell a newspaper, there’s an opportunity for the Salvation Army.”

New this year are four sites in Lowville, and while that effort ramps up, Mr. Bonney said, there’s a great need for more people to volunteer their time Friday in Watertown and throughout Jefferson County. Individual community members may volunteer, as can families, groups of friends, or church or community groups. In an effort to help attract more groups to volunteer their time, the Times again is 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.

Only one group has signed up thus far, but pre-enrollment for that contest is not required.

Any group, or other volunteers, however, is encouraged to call Lt. Hough at 782-4470 so she can funnel information to Mr. Bonney, who will help designate where volunteers will sell newspapers.

One promising sign for this year, Mr. Bonney said, is that a few street sellers who work throughout the year to collect donations from many sources have reported new donor participation.

Lt. Hough said any help is appreciated to help the Watertown Salvation Army reach its $35,000 goal. Last year, Old Newsboys Day raised about $28,000.

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