Share this article

print logo

30 years, $4 million makes for a great tradition On Kids Day, you can be sure that the paper the volunteers will be selling was put together with great care.

Every year, the message goes out to the newsroom staff.

Reporter Gene Warner is looking for recruits to stand at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and East Ferry Street in the early morning hours to hawk newspapers on Kids Day. His call never goes unanswered.

Elsewhere in the newsroom, a different group is putting together the special Kids Day edition for Tuesday. Photographers, reporters, designers and editors get involved.

In The News' circulation, production and marketing departments, they're gearing up for one of the biggest days of the year. Promotions Coordinator Lisa Cislo does some of the heaviest lifting.

The paper costs a little more—a dollar— and the single-copy sales jump radically.

The proceeds of those extra papers, minus some expenses, go to fund projects at Women & Children's Hospital, through the Variety Club.

"It feels like a special day, knowing that what we've produced is doing something really worthwhile in the community," says City Editor William Flynn, one of the keys to the effort here.

On a normal Tuesday, The News sells 26,000 single (not home-delivered) copies; on Kids Day, it will approach 150,000.

Over the years, those dollars have helped Children's with a new pediatric intensive care unit, a new neonatal intensive care unit and a state-of-the-art pharmacy.

The News' relationship with Kids Day and Variety goes back a long way—30 years, to be precise. And this year's special pages reflect that history.

Kids Day began at Buffalo's now-defunct morning paper, the Courier-Express, and when that paper went out of business in 1982, The News took over the event.

"It was a great program and we didn't want to see it go away, so we stepped in," News Publisher Stan Lipsey recalled last week. "We've been very proud of what's happened over time."

In fact, The News' Kids Day has become something of a national model for such efforts.

Three decades later, what's happened is this: $4 million to help sick children in Western New York. That's the amount that The News' 30-year effort of selling newspapers to morning commuters and others has collected.

"Having worked Kids Day myself at many corners over the years, I know that people are very generous—they often pay with a $5 or a $10 [bill] and don't want the change," said Margie Arnold, Variety controller and the general chairwoman of the Variety Club Telethon, which is noting a big anniversary of its own this year—its 50th.

The telethon begins at 7 a.m. next Sunday, broadcast by WKBW-TV from Adam's Mark Hotel, and a weeklong schedule of events open to the public is a part of the 50-year celebration.

Arnold says it's a communitywide effort. "Each year, we have named an individual as honorary chair, but this year it's not a person— it's the whole Western New York community, because the people have made us successful over 50 years." That goes for the telethon as well as Kids Day.

So on Tuesday morning, when about 3,000 volunteers from all over Western New York will fan out over more than 400 Western New York corners, you can be sure that the paper they'll be selling was put together with a great deal of care.

"It's my favorite project of the year," says News Assistant Managing Editor Margaret Kenny Giancola, who has coordinated the Kids Day page production for nearly a decade.

She is particularly happy, this year, with the Kids Day picture page, designed by Christina Wilemski, which features photos of 16 young patients— from newborn babies to older children.

Giancola sums up the spirit of good will at The News: "It just feels good to know that we can take a little time out of our normal schedules and do something that really helps."

You can email me at or write to me at The News, One News Plaza, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. I also invite readers to follow my "SulliView" blog -- a look at media and pop culture -- daily at And follow me on Twitter, where my handle is @SulliView.