An army of volunteers took to the streets Tuesday to sell a special edition of The Bee for Kids' Day, the annual fund-raiser that benefits The Salvation Army's Red Shield Community Center in Modesto and the Turlock Corps Community Center.
The event generated nearly $85,000 -- $20,600 from street sales and about $64,000 from advance sales -- according to Bee circulation manager and Kids' Day coordinator Patty Tharp. Advance sales were about the same as last year, Tharp added, while street sales were down slightly.
Kids' Day papers cost $1, and for each paper sold, 75 cents goes toward the Modesto and Turlock centers' programs. The remaining 25 cents covers printing costs.
Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across Modesto, many of them wearing red, to hawk papers. The theme of this year's event was "Campaign for Kids, Everyone Wins."
Jody Black and fiancé Robert Dickinson, both of Modesto, arrived at their post on Briggsmore Avenue and Prescott Road just before 7 a.m., hoping to sell plenty of papers to commuters and passers-by. It was the couple's first Kids' Day, and they said it won't be their last.
For years, Dickinson saw advertisements for Kids' Day and often thought about volunteering. This year, he decided to take action. Wearing a Kids' Day apron and a baseball cap to keep the sunlight out of his eyes, he whooped and waved copies of the paper at passing cars. Some people handed him $5 bills and refused to accept change. They told him to put the excess toward the cause.
Others, such as Anna Silva of Ceres, made volunteering a family affair. The 28-year-old mother brought her 4-year-old twins, son Pacquito and daughter Kailynn, to sell papers at Briggsmore and McHenry avenues. Silva said this year marked the twins' fifth Kids' Day because she sold papers while she was pregnant with them.
Some volunteers said it seemed that curbside sales were down compared with last year.
"It's been really slow," said Cecilia Locke, a Kids' Day coordinator and Red Shield board member. Locke and her friends and family members have staffed the area around the Prescott Road/Briggsmore Avenue intersection for seven years.
To compensate for decreased traffic, Locke positioned some volunteers in parking lots near fast-food restaurants, coffee shops and stores.
Since the event's inception in 1996, volunteers, community groups and businesses have helped raise more than $560,000.
"I'm surprised at how generous people have been, especially with the economy being so bad," said Capt. Roy Wild, who runs the Red Shield Community Center with his wife. But he spoke with a number of people who said they were willing to dig into their pockets to help a good cause.
"The community is appreciative of all we do, and days like this prove it," Wild said. "They are making a difference one child at a time."
The money raised during Kids' Day helps pay for programs and services offered to area children, Wild said. For example, it costs the Red Shield center about $35,000 to operate its swimming pool from the end of May to August, "but it only costs kids a dollar to swim," he said, and no child is turned away because he or she can't pay.
Bee staff writer Donna Birch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2309.