By Rebecca Metcalf
Reflecting On My Family’s Favorite Christmas Charity
Old Newsboys was founded in 1924. In 1985, when my dad, Karl Metcalf, was 33, he reflected on his childhood experiences via a Flint Journal article. He shared that when he was 5 years old, the Old Newsboys made Christmas special for him by bringing him warm clothes and a tricycle.
“I will never forget that Christmas,” he said. “when I started working at 15 years old, I donated a gift box and have not missed a year since.” Now, it is 34 years later and Old Newsboys is still making sure that no child is forgotten on Christmas. Now in its 95th year, Old Newsboys has brightened Christmas morning for more than 818,000 needy children across Genesee County.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization does not receive funding from federal government, state government, or the United Way. Their programs are supported through fundraisers and a few small foundation grants. Examples of donors include the C.S. Mott Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Consumers Energy Foundation, and Stella and Frederick Loeb Charitable Trust. Of course, donors like you make a huge impact too. They host a variety of fundraisers such as a Valentine Gala, Bowling Extravaganza, Euchre tournament, pancake breakfast, radiothon, and newspaper sales. If you are interested in attending an event, please visit their website or Facebook page.
Old Newsboys is best known for its Christmas Box Program. It serves low-income families in Genesee County. However, it also serves those with special circumstances such as recent job loss, outstanding hospital bills, or fire survivors. Much like the box my father received, kids today get a sweatsuit, socks and underclothes, hat, gloves, dental hygiene products, and an age-appropriate gift that’s new. To enroll, you must visit the office in person. Bring a driver’s license, social security card, and each child’s birth certificate. You must choose to bring one of the following: tax records, a Medicaid card, or a letter from the child’s school stating that the child is on free or reduced lunch.
Not as well-known is the Coat and Shoe Program. Once identified by a school counselor or staff member, the child comes to the Old Newsboys office to receive a new coat, a certificate for shoes, or both. With each coat, the child also receives a hat, mittens and a scarf. In the 2018/2019 school year, Old Newsboys provided 505 coats and shoes to school-age children. To see if you qualify (there are limited quantities), contact the parent liaison or counselor at the child’s school.
Another lesser-known program Old Newsboys sponsors is for an emergency box. In 2018, seven families were helped through this program. The Red Cross or Resource Genesee referred Old Newsboys to this program. It is for families who have suffered a catastrophic loss from fire or disasters. It is the only program where Old Newsboys uses both new and gently used products. Clothing, footwear, and hygiene products may be distributed depending on what is on hand or can be gathered.
If you are interested in volunteering for Old Newsboys, help is needed with a variety of tasks including office work, warehouse labor, running a necessity drive (socks and underwear), or selling papers on a street corner. Students may do a work-study program through Mott Community College, Baker College and University of Michigan- Flint. If you are interested, you should check with your school’s Financial Aid Department. There is also the opportunity for one person to intern for marketing/ communications, and two social work interns per semester.
If you don’t have the time to volunteer, you could donate or hold a fundraiser of your own. My mom, Linda Carnahan, used to belong to UAW Region 1C. She would create cookbooks to sell in the shop for Old Newsboys. Regardless of how you help, please consider doing so. This is not a charity with a CEO who makes a lot of money. This is a local charity that makes a tangible difference in our community.
Whether it’s volunteering for them or receiving gifts from them, Old Newsboys will always be my family’s favorite charity at Christmas.