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In Paola and Kirk Stange’s lives, Old Newsboys is all about helping local, at-risk children.
The chairmen of Old Newsboys 2020 knew one thing for certain: This year’s campaign will be held – virtually – to raise funds for children’s charities with ever-increasing needs. The one thing missing this year? Volunteers wearing bright green aprons to solicit funds on street corners.
Instead, the public is asked to donate generously online or by check to the Metro St. Louis community project now in its 64th year.
What remains the same is that articles featuring the charities served written by local high school journalists are available within this section and also online at oldnewsboysday.org, the same link for direct donations.
This year’s edition will be dedicated to the late Lou Brock, an all-star baseball player and supporter of Old Newsboys.
Old Newsboys: Easy choice to support
The Stanges head their own firm focused on family law.
“My career choice is indicative of my love of kids,” said Paola. “Through my work, I am trying to implement the best possible outcomes for children. Old Newsboys supports charities that help needy [kids].”
Kirk said supporting Old Newsboys was an easy choice after the Stanges founded their firm. The St. Louis tradition, known as “the charity of last resort,” attracted them because many of its funding requests come from small grassroots charities seeking diapers, formula, shoes, backpacks and other necessities to help children grow into responsible citizens.
”We did a lot of research [on charities]. Paola was the spearhead who got really involved. It is our duty to give back and there is no better cause. When you have your own business, you make a conscious effort to do more and assume more responsibility as it grows,” Kirk said, indicating how their volunteer roles have grown in the last decade. Paola is treasurer of the nonprofit organization and the couple was named to its Hall of Fame in 2017.
Since her first introduction to hawking the special-edition newspaper on street corners, Paola has marked Old Newsboys Day on her calendar every year. Their son, dressed as Captain America, came along one year to learn volunteerism as a young superhero’s everyday goal.
Challenges for 2020
Old Newsboys awarded grants to nearly 150 charities last winter. Because of support from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, all donations directly fund charities’ needs. Of course, unexpected events altered this years’ experience. The Old Newsboys organization reacted positively when changing needs required retargeting funds specified in earlier requests.
Making a donation online, Kirk noted, offers an option to reach a little deeper into pockets to better lifetime chances for children.
“A lot of people empty the cash in their cars, but hopefully people will donate a little more than they usually do,” Paola said of online donations. “An envelope will be in those newspapers, too, to send donations to this longstanding tradition.”
Planning a campaign that culminates outdoors at dawn in mid-November creates worries, particularly when, just two years ago, hazardous weather conditions postponed the event for the first time. Switching to a virtual campaign for Old Newsboys Day 2020 was a gradual decision as COVID-19 crept deeper into everyday life.
“We had a concert in February where we gave [volunteers] Bob and Mary Ciapciak the first ‘Love the Children Award,’” Paola recalled as the most recent public event for Old Newsboys. The board monitored CDC recommendations through spring and summer. An annual polo match for early September was canceled. It was time to keep everyone safe, they decided, so Old Newsboys Day turned into a virtual celebration to better children’s lives.
This year’s chairmen want to pass along to their own children – Benjamin, now 12, and Amelia, 10 – the responsible goal of giving back by volunteering. Paola considered her mother’s example as she was a young girl growing up in Atlanta, Ga. Like her mother, she doesn’t want to let anyone down.
“With hundreds of applications due to this year’s circumstances, it will be heart-wrenching if I don’t have enough money to give them everything they ask,” she said.
After all, rain, snow and sleet hasn’t kept Old Newsboys down. Nor will COVID-19.
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The mission of Old Newsboys is simple — to ensure that children who are at risk in our community, because of abuse or poverty, receive adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care and are provided equal opportunity for social development.