Shoes for kids: Old Newsboys soldiers on despite pandemic challenges

·3 min read

LANSING – Decades before a politician made the term part of the American lexicon, the Old Newsboys were using fake news to put shoes on children's feet.

For 98 years, the volunteer organization has peddled a spoof newspaper during the holiday season to raise money to buy shoes, boots or socks for tens of thousands of kids who might otherwise go without.

Old Newsboys
Old Newsboys

The group's primary fundraising campaign is back again this year in pandemic-altered form.

For the second year in a row, it's forgoing its traditional face-to-face sales of the Lansing Spoof Journal for a donation of any size, relying, instead, on a virtual campaign.

This year's edition of the Spoof Journal pokes fun at Lansing's mayor, Michigan's governor and other folks and was stuffed inside the Nov. 28 Lansing State Journal. It can be viewed on the Lansing Old Newsboys website. A donation envelope will be stuffed inside the Dec. 5 State Journal.

Pandemic or not, one thing hasn't changed, said Bill Reed, this year's sales day chairman for the nonprofit. There are many kids in the community who don't have proper footwear, and it can handicap them in many ways.

Kids may be ill-equipped for gym class or turn away from sports and other types of physical activity if they don't have suitable shoes or boots, he said.

"I believe it can affect a child's health," said Reed, who has been involved with Old Newsboys for more than a decade. "If they don't have a decent pair of shoes, it's going to have an impact. With still-growing feet, they may have issues later."

Old Newsboys provides shoes or boots to more than 7,000 children a year in the Lansing region. The organization also plans to distribute socks this year.

Last year's campaign raised about $195,500. That was above the group's goal but less than years prior, Reed said.

"We had some challenges last year, so this year, we set our goal at $178,000," he said. "We're hoping to exceed the goal this year, as well."

Children in need of footwear are identified through a voucher system.

"We encourage parents to get with their child's school and see if they qualify for the program," Reed said, "We also ask folks to visit our website. They can give at any time throughout the year."

Donations can be made via PayPal or credit card on the group's website or by mailing a check to Old Newsboys of Greater Lansing, PO Box 14058, Lansing, MI 48901. You can also donate by texting SHOES to (517) 208-2788.

Reed also is urging Old Newsboys volunteers to stay connected, despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We want our volunteers to stay involved and hopefully be back next year when things are hopefully more normal," he said. "Anyone who wants to get involved can contact us. We're always looking for people to come aboard and lend us a hand. It's a great, great organization to be involved in. It really touches your heart."

Contact Ken Palmer at kpalmer@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Shoes for kids: Old Newsboys soldiers on despite pandemic challenges

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