Newspapers Help Combat Hunger

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By: Charles Geraci

The second annual Great American Bake Sale kicks off on Sunday, headed by Parade magazine and Share Our Strength, a leading hunger-relief organization. Last year, newspapers across the country played a vital role in this effort to fight childhood hunger and will again contribute significantly.

A cover story in this Sunday’s Parade launches the Bake Sale, which will continue through July 25. It encourages Americans to host bake sales in their communities and donate the proceeds to Share Our Strength, which makes grants to nonprofits fighting childhood hunger in the United States. Sunday’s article by David Oliver Relin thoroughly explores this problem, which affects 13 million children nationwide.

“We have been getting five to 10 calls a day from newspapers wanting to know what’s happening this year,” said Arlison Hall, director of communications for Share Our Strength.

Last year, newspapers were instrumental in the Bake Sale, which raised about $1.2 million and saw 350,000 Americans participate. The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, for instance, published two feature articles and hosted its own bake sale which raised nearly $600 and kick-started the initiative for the community. The paper also publicized other bake sales in the area and plans to hold another of its own events this year.

The Washington Post partnered with Parade last year in the Capital Area Culinary Bake Sale, in which local restaurants donated a portion of their proceeds from dessert sales to Share Our Strength. The paper listed all the participating restaurants and encouraged its readers to order desserts. In addition, Post executives spoke at several events. The Los Angeles Times helped out in its area by inserting flyers for the Bake Sale.

Nearly a hundred of Parade’s partners gave in-paper promotional support.

“One of the beauties of the Bake Sale is that papers of all sizes have been eager to participate,” said Parade Publisher Randy Siegel. “It is up to each newspaper to decide how to be involved.”

The 2004 Bake Sale will be different in several ways. Last year, there was a $5 fee to register but it will be free this year. A Bake Sale hotline will be available for participants. Also, four community organizations have signed on to help this year: Youth Service America, the Points of Light Foundation, The National Council of Churches, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Directors.

But newspaper participation remains crucial. “We enjoyed the involvement of a number of our newspaper partners last year and look forward to building upon those relationships this year,” said Siegel. “A lot of newspapers are also excited about participating in our national campaign by bringing it to life in their local markets.”

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