Old Newsboys met with charitable compassion in Port Huron, Marysville

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By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

Webb Coates stood outside holding a stack of newspapers for two hours by the drive-through of a Tim Horton’s on Friday with a smile and a warm greeting.

Coates, a Marysville resident and member of the Knights of Columbus, is one of more than 75 volunteers helping in the two-day effort by the Old Newsboys of Port Huron to raise money for children who need socks, gloves and underwear. The campaign continues Saturday.

“What better way to celebrate our lord and savior by doing charitable work,” Coates said. “That’s what brings us out. That’s really what’s important — this time of year, especially.”

While the Old Newsboys raise money year-round, they are the most visible on the first Friday and Saturday in December.

Standing off to the side where customers would wait to pick up their morning coffee in Marysville, Coates continued to smile and wave a paper in their general direction. Whether they rolled down their windows or not, drivers were treated with a “hello” from Coates, who wore a Santa Claus hat and held a milk carton stuffed with money.

Within his first two hours in the cold, Coates said he had received donations from a few hundred coffee junkies.

“I wasn’t looking at what they were dropping in at the time,” he said. “Looking at it when it was being emptied, I saw a lot of 20s. Sometimes people come prepared and leave a check. A lot of times you get a handful of pennies. A little goes a long way.”

With other volunteers stationed at the various local businesses, the Old Newsboys asked for donations in exchange for a copy of a special edition Times Herald.

For this year’s effort, Port Huron Old Newsboys president Ed Weichsler said the group hoped to raise $72,500, which would go toward families who applied for vouchers from the Department of Human Services. The organization gave out 1,316 vouchers this year.

Down the street from Coates at the Four Star Grille was Mel Konik — another member of the Knights of Columbus who was taking his turn as an Old Newsboy.

Having done so for more than 10 years, Konik was stationed at the popular restaurant and offered his season greetings to those passing by.

“We’re here to be able to support the community because they support us at the Knights of Columbus. We like to give back,” Konik said. “It’s a great cause. Everybody who has given donations today seems to know the cause is for the children of the area.”

The number of people who chip in year in and year out has never surprised Konik, who said the area flourishes with generosity around the holidays.

Algonac resident Norm Scaglione was out for breakfast when he saw Konik standing near the doorway with a paper in hand.

“I’m glad to see them here,” Scaglione said. “Whenever I see a worthy cause, I give.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 956-8905 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 5, 2014)

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