Help Them to Hope fund drive begins
Published in the Lake County News-Sun By Judy Masterson

The roots of Help Them to Hope, the Lake County News-Sun’s annual holiday campaign, are soaked in old-fashioned newspaper ink.

The men who ran the paper’s gigantic printing press in the bowels of the former Madison Avenue building in downtown Waukegan weren’t allowed on the waxed floors of the upstairs “Grub Club” because their inky shoes left smudges.

“So we started our own coffee club,” said Bob Haymaker, who, like working men of his day, found a good job right out of high school and kept it. Haymaker started at the Waukegan News-Sun pressroom in 1962, is one of the last of the big-hearted pressmen who in 1957 looked at the crumpled $50 in leftover coffee-club cash and decided to donate it to make the season bright for one needy family. Then-Publisher F. Ward Just learned of the fund, matched it and convinced the pressmen to take it public in 1959.

Since then, Help Them to Hope has raised more than $2.5 million, money that goes to support local service agencies that offer direct assistance to people in need of food, clothing and shelter. Every dime of funds raised goes to those in need. All administrative costs are absorbed by the Board of Directors, Lake County News-Sun and NorStates Bank.

HTTH Board Chairman Richard Ribando, a former News-Sun publisher, hailed the campaign’s 57 years-and-counting.

“The money stays local,” Ribando said. “There’s no CEO. We’re all volunteers and we’ve never expected, or accepted, a thing. Our volunteers respect contributors and our contributors respect and appreciate our volunteers.”

Last year, the fund raised a record amount — $45,000. — which was disbursed to seven recipient agencies. Applicants are carefully screened and must re-apply each year. Donations, many given in memory of friends and loved ones, are highlighted daily in the newspaper during the HTTH season, from the weekend after Thanksgiving through early January. Contributions that come in during the course of the year are also published — in the first HTTH listings after Thanksgiving.

“The typical donation is anywhere between $20 and $1000,” Haymaker said. "School classrooms give, senior citizens give, clubs, churches and employers give.”

Ribando, of Lake Villa, has volunteered for the campaign for more than 30 years. Other former newspaper employees on the HTTH board, including Haymaker of Waukegan and Rosemary Alfredson of Mundelein, have also served for decades.

“It’s gratifying for us as volunteers,” Ribando said, “to see the outpouring from people year after year.”

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