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54th annual Help Them to Hope fund drive begins

News-Sun pressman showed their support for newspaper's annual Help Them Hope Fund December 1963. (left right) Ernie 'Bishop' Miller George

News-Sun pressman showed their support for the newspaper's annual Help Them to Hope Fund in December 1963. (left to right) Ernie "Bishop" Miller, George "Knobby" Houchin, Jim "Zippy" Marth, Ed "Mac" McNeany, Bob "Foots" Haymaker, George "Krobar" Eaton, Charles Eaton and Ed "Skid" Toll. | News-Sun files

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Make a donation

To donate, make checks or money orders payable to:

Help Them To Hope, P.O. Box 364, Gurnee, IL 60031. Donations may also be mailed to NorStates Bank 1601 N. Lewis Ave. Waukegan, IL 60085, or dropped at any one of the eight NorStates Bank locations throughout Lake County:

• 1601 N. Lewis Ave., Waukegan

• 3233 Grand Ave., Waukegan

• 216 W. Madison St., Waukegan

• 5384 Grand Ave., Gurnee

• 1777 N. Cedar Lake Rd., Round Lake Beach

• 301 Goodnow Blvd. & Route 134, Round Lake

• 700 N. Sheridan Rd., Winthrop Harbor

• 40220 N. Route 59, Antioch

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Updated: January 27, 2014 2:46AM

The world has changed dramatically in the more than half-century since a group of ink-stained newspaper pressmen first donated the leftover money in their coffee fund so that a family in need could enjoy a merry Christmas.

But the need for Help Them to Hope, the annual holiday campaign sponsored by the Lake County News-Sun, has not changed.

“There’s nothing new about hunger,” said Help Them to Hope Board President Rich Ribando. “There’s nothing new about domestic violence. There’s nothing new about homelessness.”

The fund, which was taken public in 1959 with the support of the newspaper, its owner and employees, has raised $2.4 million for local charities and social service agencies. Each dollar donated stays in Lake County.

“After 54 years, what else can you say but ‘Thanks for helping your neighbor,’” said Ribando, a resident of Lake Villa and former News-Sun publisher. “We thought that there would be a day we wouldn’t need Help Them to Hope. But that day hasn’t come.”

The non-profit Help Them To Hope, Inc. works with local service agencies which provide financial support and services directly to Lake County residents in need. Recipient agencies for the 2013 campaign, selected because of their broad outreach and support services, include Beacon Place, Catholic Charities of Lake County, Christian Outreach of Lutherans, Community Social Services, Mothers Trust Foundation, Open Arms Mission, Pads Lake County, and VFW Post No. 1293 Waukegan.

Thanksgiving Day is the traditional kick-off date for the campaign, which continues through the first days of the new year. The Lake County News-Sun publishes a daily listing of individual donors as well as a total for campaign contributions.

Bob Haymaker, 70, of Waukegan, is one of four surviving pressmen who first donated crumpled bills and coins kept in an old coffee can. The pressmen started their own coffee collection after they were banned from visiting the News-Sun lunchroom because their shoes left ink smudges on the freshly-waxed floor.

“It’s heartwarming to see that it has continued all these years,” said Haymaker, who also serves on the HTTH Board. “The fund still helps a lot of people. This year, like every year, the need is great. We just hope people will be as generous as they have in the past.”

The fund, which raised just shy of $76,000 last year, has become a popular way to memorialize loved ones. Ribando estimates that 70 percent of all donations are memorials.

“It’s a wonderful way to keep the memories alive,” Ribando said. “It’s a bit of immortality given to people every year.”

Generations have grown up donating to Help Them to Hope and reading the stories of the people whose futures shine brighter because of the gifts − the countless gestures of generosity − the campaign helps to channel.

“We’re looking for a new generation to step up,” Ribando said. “To keep feeding the hungry. To keep what started as a simple act of kindness going.

“Help Them to Hope is proof that people have charity in their hearts.”

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