At the 75th Annual Event, Old Newsboys Day Volunteers Reflect on How It Still Provides Service to the Community | Donations to the community

WATERTOWN – Old Newsboys Day, an annual event in the city and some surrounding communities, has been greeted with a festival atmosphere over the years. A helicopter once flew to Santa Claus for the occasion. Another year, a volunteer was accompanied by an orchestra as he made his merry rounds in the public square, which in the program’s early years saw pedestrian and automobile traffic rumble from men peddling. copies of the Watertown Daily Times benefiting the Salvation Army.

Those carnival scenes faded over the decades, but a group of dedicated volunteers kept Old Newsboys Day alive. Volunteers are back in force today, on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the event. They prove that one thing that has not faded is the need of the community, as funds raised by Old Newsboys Day remain vital to the local Salvation Army.

“There’s a lot going on, but 75 years is a long time to fundraise with the same styles as it always has been,” said Paul A. Simmons, Old Newsboys Day volunteer. “We were very lucky to be married, shall we say, to the Watertown Daily Times forever.”

The discovery of the “Day” – Friday, December 3 of this year – was a pleasant surprise for Captains Dominic and Elizabeth Nicoll of the Watertown Salvation Army. They took up their duties in the local military on July 1, replacing Majors Karen and Dennis Smullen, who have resigned. Watertown was their 11th Salvation Army posting, following homework in communities in Pennsylvania and New York.

The Nicolls served in Burlington, Vermont, before being posted to Watertown.

The Old Newsboys Day program, since it first took place in 1947, has been run by volunteers selling copies of The Times for more than its cover cost of $ 2. The program was introduced in Lewis County several years ago. Money collected in a community also stays in that community.

“I had never heard of Old Newsboys Day before so it was something to learn and understand how it works,” said Captain Elizabeth Nicoll. “But it’s a huge fundraiser. It’s amazing how the community comes together to make this happen for us.

In 1947, the first Old Newsboys Day, the volunteers, after selling 1,395 newspapers, brought in $ 938, which after inflation would equal $ 11,600 today. Last year, the event grossed $ 21,645.

“We were amazed that we were able to get that amount, with COVID and everything,” said David L. Bonney, Old Newsboys Day volunteer coordinator.

This will be Mr. Bonney’s 45th year as Senior Coordinator of Old Newsboys Day. He first learned the intricacies of newspaper distribution as a teenager when he worked part-time in the Times distribution department as a high school student. After graduating from Watertown High School in 1964, he was offered a full-time job in the department, under the direction of Dominic V. Liberatore, who died in 2005 at the age of 85. Mr Liberatore was from Syracuse, which Mr Bonney said he had familiarized with an “Old Newsboys Day” sponsored by a similar newspaper in that town and decided to bring the idea to the Watertown Daily Times.

According to a December 2020 story posted by, “The (Syracuse) Old Newsboys tradition began in 1932, when newspaper volunteers raised $ 1,800 to help poor families buy charcoal to heat their homes. The program has evolved and has been going on for 89 years. Last year over $ 47,000 was raised through the Old Newsboy effort for the Christmas office.

Mr. Bonney, who left the Times broadcasting service in 1981 to embark on a distinguished career in sales and training, is a distinguished member of the Salvation Army’s board of directors in Watertown.

His love for the Salvation Army is in part based on experiences involving his father, Lyle G. Bonney, a former bailiff and police officer for the town of Watertown, who died in 1996 at the age of 88. Lyle Bonney was also a military police officer during World War I. II. Mr Bonney said his father made seven trips across the Atlantic to keep prisoners of war.

“He would go down to New York Harbor,” said Mr. Bonney. “The Red Cross sold coffee and donuts, but the Salvation Army distributed them. He never forgot it and was a big supporter of The Salvation Army. I have always admired people who give their entire careers and their entire lives to be an officer in the (Salvation) Army Corps.

Mr. Bonney, also in his 47th year as a volunteer firefighter with the Cape Vincent Department, has been assisted over the years by his wife, Janyth “Jann” L. Bonney. As a volunteer coordinator, his duties include counting receipts, distributing newspapers to vendors, and getting drivers to businesses with papers in tow.

an alternative goal

Mr Bonney was due for a total knee replacement a few weeks before this year’s Old Newsboys Day. But more than a week before the operation, Mr Bonney said he plans to return today to direct Old Newsboys Day at the Watertown Daily Times, 260 Washington St.

“It will be the driving force, besides my wife,” said Bonney. “I have told Paul Simmons and the (Salvation Army) board of directors that I will do everything in my power to be there third. They tell me there’s no reason I can’t be. They say a good detox is to get up and move. That will be my goal, to make sure I’m there on the third. But I do preparations in advance, just in case I am not.

In 2018, Mr. Bonney was about to step down as coordinator of Old Newspaper Day. But the person who planned to take on the duties has passed away.

But Mr. Bonney said Mr. Simmons’ help was greatly appreciated.

“Paul worked hard with me to find volunteers,” said Bonney. “That’s what I asked him to do, and he sent them to the plate, like last year, when we had new volunteers. Also, if I list names, I’ll leave someone out. But we have a number of long-time volunteers who have worked with me over the years.

One of those dedicated volunteers is Joseph Roselli, who has raised over $ 100,000 on Old Newsboys Day over the years. In 2005, he began to return to the “road” of longtime volunteer A. Milain Smith, who developed a network of donors. At the time, Mr. Smith and Mr. Roselli were on the board of directors of the Watertown Salvation Army.

“For the first two years he accompanied me, then I took him back on my own,” said Roselli.

Mr. Roselli is no longer a member of the board of directors, but says he is a “member” of the Salvation Army.

“Instead of standing in a corner, he asked people to donate money,” Mr Roselli said of Mr Smith, who died in 2018 at the age of 93.

Mr Roselli said Mr Smith had a fondness for the Salvation Army because of the service it rendered to him and his family during the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1980s. 1930s, and during World War II.

“His philosophy was that it was a privilege for them to give to The Salvation Army to help people, especially children, who wouldn’t have toys, baskets of food or anything like that. Christmas morning, ”said Roselli. “He got down to it because of the war. His family didn’t have much, so the Salvation Army helped him in many ways. He wanted to give back.

Mr. Roselli adds a personal touch to his role with Old Newsboys Day. Every year he sends a flyer through the US Postal Service to his customers. The flyer features a photo of him with the late Mr. Smith taken several years ago.

“And then I call everyone personally, and I visit everyone personally to collect the money,” he said. “I want to visit them personally.


“Because they ask me questions about what happens to the money and I try to explain to them that it stays here locally, and just to chat with them,” he said. “If someone gives you a check for a thousand dollars, I think it’s worth talking to them. “

Mr. Roselli also makes sure to deliver the newspaper to customers who have donated on Friday, which traditionally falls on Old Newspaper Day.

“It is a privilege to do this,” said Mr. Roselli. “It’s a rewarding thing and that’s why I like it. I take it to heart.

His traditional way of raising money for Old Newsboys Day may be different from that of the volunteer standing in a corner or in front of a store, but Roselli said that shouldn’t diminish the hard work of other volunteers.

“I’m lucky to have clients from a guy who’s been doing this for years,” he said. “But that poor guy standing around the corner and picking up $ 25 or $ 50, is also important.”

Mr. Roselli added that his son, Anthony J. Roselli, is a doctor and has two grandchildren aged 8 and 6.

“They have everything they need. I would like to do something for less fortunate children, ”said Mr. Roselli. “Children are always the innocent victims. I feel really good waking up on Christmas morning knowing that some of the kids have a nice meal to eat and they have presents, and I do that in honor of my grandchildren.

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