Old Newsboys kicking off holiday box program

FLINT — For the past 95 years, the Old Newsboys of Flint organization has lived up to its motto of “Let No Child Be Forgotten,” and the need to help children in Genesee County continues to grow.

“We’re seeing more need and seeing new clients this year,” said Lisa Kirk, director of programs and volunteers. “We have families that have been coming for 20 years. They brought their children, and now there are grandchildren. We don’t cap the number of years they can sign up.”

Signup for the annual Christmas box program began Nov. 4 and continues through Dec. 20. Families can sign up at the Old Newsboys of Flint building at 6255 Taylor Drive in Flint Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Signup is closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.

In order to qualify for the program, the parent or legal guardian must come to the Old Newsboys office at the far south door on the west side of the building. Applications cannot be taken over the phone or by email. Parents or guardians must bring their driver’s license or state ID; their own Social Security card; a Michigan Medicaid card for each child or approved eligibility documentation; and birth certificates or judgments of legal custody for each child. Eligibility documentation for children not receiving Medicaid are the parent’s most recent tax return or a reduced/free lunch acceptance letter from the child’s school.

Once eligibility has been confirmed, boxes are packed while the parents wait and can be taken home immediately. Each box contains a sweat suit, socks and underwear, a hat and a pair of gloves, dental hygiene products and a new age-appropriate gift.

Kirk said the Old Newsboys does fundraising year-round to provide the Christmas gifts for needy children. Its biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up Dec. 13 with the annual newspaper sale. The organization also holds a golf outing each year.

“We don’t receive any federal or state funding,” Kirk said. “We request grants from foundations and local businesses. Businesses hold events for us or put out donation boxes or put up a Sponsor a Child tree.”

The Sponsor a Child program allows anyone to sponsor a child for $20 to help cover the cost of one child’s Christmas box. Business-sponsored fundraising events coming up include:

Blue Christmas at Luigi’s – Dec. 4, 6-10 p.m. at Luigi’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, 2132 Davison Road, Flint. Sign up to sponsor a child.

Whatchamacallit Networking Event – Dec. 6, 7-9 a.m. at Financial Plus Credit Union, 3381 Van Slyke Road, Flint. Breakfast will be served, and all monetary donations will benefit the Old Newsboys of Flint.

In its effort to make sure no child is forgotten, the Old Newsboys partners with Toys for Tots in a referral program. Toys for Tots has an age cap of 12 years old, but if the family qualifies and has older children, they are referred to the Old Newsboys, whose program continues until children are 18 or have completed high school. Kirk said next year, the referral partnership will expand to include the Salvation Army, which has an age cap of 14.

In its 85 years, the Old Newsboys of Flint has provided Christmas boxes for more than 818,000 Genesee County children. Last year, 6,035 children received gifts.

For more information about the Old Newsboys of Flint’s Christmas box program, call 810-744- 1840.