Editorial: The 101st Year


The 101st Year

Since 1921, “The Freeman’s Journal” has sponsored a Christmas Fund drive to help our local families in need, assisting them in putting clothes on their children, food on their tables and presents under their trees at a time when it seemed the holiday season would leave them bereft and out of the festive swirl of things. The fund was created by Rowan D. Spraker, Sr., then the editor and publisher of “The Freeman’s Journal,” and it was intended as a Christmas gift to area residents in need who were unable to provide a holiday for their children, families, and, in some instances, animals.

Spraker no doubt got his decidedly brilliant idea from “The New York Times,” whose publisher in 1911, Adolph S. Ochs, was out on a walk on Christmas Day and met a man in tattered clothes. The man told Ochs that although he had been able to have a meal at the YMCA, he had nowhere to sleep that night. Ochs decided that The Times should use its pages to give back to its community, and the following year the paper published 100 short accounts of people who were struggling to provide for themselves and their families. The agencies that were already helping these people were mentioned, and the Times suggested that its readers donate to those organizations. It worked, and today the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund is still going strong, helping the city’s neediest—and others around the globe—to the tune of $330 million since its beginning.

Like the Times Neediest Cases Fund, The Freeman’s Journal Christmas Fund was also a journalistic triumph. Through the stories and articles that were printed in conjunction with the fund, the Journal and its sister newspapers have been able to reach out to their readers over the years and help them understand that not only are there many people in need, but also there are many ways to help them.

For years, the editors of “The Freeman’s Journal” chose its Christmas Fund beneficiaries with the help of Opportunities for Otsego, an agency founded in 1966 that works to alleviate poverty and foster self-sufficiency. More recently, however, “The Freeman’s Journal” and “Hometown Oneonta” have been working with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, which puts new clothes and toys—donated anonymously by caring individuals and groups—under the tree for a million children across the country.

This year the newspaper initially sponsored 13 families around Otsego County, and our angels donated so quickly that those families’ wishes were fulfilled immediately. We have since asked the Salvation Army to suggest five additional families; thus far the wishes of three of those have been met.

There are two families remaining. Please think of these people as you wrap up your Christmas presents for under your own trees. Gifts should be both new and unwrapped; they may be for an entire family or for an individual; and they should be dropped off at the newspaper office at 21 Railroad Avenue, Cooperstown, or at the Salvation Army Chapel, 25 River Street, Oneonta. You may also call the newspaper office at (607) 547-6103 for more information.

As always, thank you all.

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